The most successful groups I have run as a school psychologist are “Hip Hop Social Emotional Learning” (SEL) groups. I cannot express on paper how powerful these groups are at getting students to learn content and process social emotional learning competencies. I have taught a wealth of concepts by using music videos, documentaries, rap and R&B music.

One of the most engaging sessions I have had was sessions on mindsets –fixed versus growth –and paradigms. After discussing mindsets and paradigms, I often have students to process the content and concepts by identifying music that are relevant to the terms we discussed in group. After identifying the music, students are required to bring the music to me days before group session so that I could review the music. If the music is relevant, the student then shares with the group and explains how the music or documentary is relevant to our topic. In our session on paradigms and mindset, we reflected on hip hop rap artists and talked about whether we believed the artist operated from a fixed or growth mindset; additionally, we talked about how their paradigms shaped the way they viewed the world. Homework for this session consisted of identifying music or videos that show evidence of fixed or growth mindset. Students listen to music throughout the day. Since they value music, i recommended that students listen closely to the songs they listen. They job was to listen to the music, listen for paradigms that may shaped either the artist’ worldviews, or the worldviews of the characters discussed in the song. From this assignment, students brought in many songs and depicted growth and fixed mindset; they brought in songs that shed light on the importance of paradigms. From this experience, students learned and processed the concepts of fixed and growth mindset, and the importance of paradigms. After students became familiar with these terms and concepts, students were provided opportunities to write raps, poems, and songs about their lives and world views. From this, students, as a group, discussed whether they possessed fixed and/or growth mindsets. We then talked about how to develop fixed mindsets and how to continue to enhance growth mindsets.

I have included the song, Changes, by 2pac. One of the students used this song to demonstrate mastery of knowledge surrounding fixed/growth mindset and paradigms. He did a phenomenal job as he showed how the first couple verses of Pac’s song were fixed mindset and how Pac viewed life negatively. He explained that, by the end of the song, Pac demonstrated growth mindset, in which he encouraged people to make a change–to change the way they think and do things.

I should note that i used the “clean” version of this song.