SEL Spotlight

What is your name and role?

I’m Mike Farr, a 25-year teaching veteran, in PE/Health currently at Clover Street School.

 What inspired you to become a teacher?

My initial inspiration was my father, but honestly, I, unfortunately, had bad and uncaring teachers in High School. Those experiences inspired me to become a teacher to prove that the job could be done better and with more compassion. I was also bullied throughout High School. I started in an Elementary Education program, focusing on  Math but I  eventually switched to PE, with the mindset I could reach all kids in a school. 

 Why does Social Emotional Learning matter? 

Without a strong and supporting foundation, students will never make gains academically. I think we forget sometimes that our students come from different home environments with small or limited social interactions and then come to school and have large group social interactions. I truly believe that kids' SEL (Social Emotional Learning) needs have to be met first before starting an aggressive school day in terms of academics. We have to stop punishing kids for being kids and meet their needs at their age level and their mindset. These are 7,8,9,10,11 etc. year old kids…sometimes we forget that. Here at Clover Street School, I am thankful to work alongside two great SEL specialists who have been an incredible addition to our school and our students.

 How do you incorporate SEL into your classroom? 

My PE training involves teaching kids social and emotional skills in individual, small to large group settings through gameplay and sports. Since the pandemic, I have adjusted my lesson planning to increase focus on “Open Gym” play. I use “Open Gym” play as a way to monitor and teach positive social interactions and problem-solving through gameplay. On nice days, I use the same concept but teach it outside in every play zone used at our school. During this gameplay, I teach kids safe routines in terms of using the equipment, space, and how to clean up equipment. I also provide multiple opportunities to refine skills, from fine motor games like playing with action figures to gross motor play like playing basketball. Individual, partner, small group and large group play is also taught. I also intervene to teach kids how to solve problems, which 9/10 times are misunderstandings. I reinforce positive play by letting kids choose from my “Famous Prize Box”. I deter negative play with strong intervention. Overall and most importantly, I remind myself every single day that I am not here to develop elite athletes, I am here to develop well-rounded kids who can solve their social-emotional problems without engaging in destructive behaviors towards other kids.

 Every Windsor Public School has an SEL Specialist.  If you want to learn more about how to bring SEL into your home or classroom please contact our SEL Coordinator, Dr. Michael Mallery Jr. at