Supporting the Development of SEL Capacity

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social emotional principlesSchools have the opportunity to increase their capacity in social-emotional learning. In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith share ideas about how to build SEL schools (pp. 143-155):

  1. Use data to guide decision-making – Study your buildings and gather data on all the SEL principles. Use the data to examine trends and needs. Use the data to decide which areas to address first in your SEL plan.
  2. Include key stakeholders in the decision-making process – Students, parents, teachers, staff members, administrators, counselors, bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers all interact with students and shape the environment. Let their voices be heard at the decision-making table.
  3. Identify the needs and goals – When examining SEL principles in the building, you are undertaking significant systemic change. Student factors, external factors, organizational structure, organizational culture, instruction, and curriculum are all subject to examination and the goal-setting process (pp.152-153).
  4. Choose a program to address the needs and goals – There are a variety of programs available to provide resource support in the area of SEL. Carefully examine the programs available and select one that addresses your needs.

Think about your classroom and your school. Could your classroom and school benefit from further exploration of SEL principles? If so, step up and lead the change that is needed. You, your students, and your school will benefit greatly from your effort

Supporting the Development of Community

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student communityStudents participate in a variety of communities and need opportunities to practice the skills associated with being a good community member. Classrooms and schools provide such opportunities on a daily basis. In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith identify the areas in which teachers and schools are able to provide support for community skill building (pp. 118-140):

  1. Respect for Others – Acknowledging the worth of all persons, demonstrating empathy, and operating within a culture of caring are all elements of respect demonstrated within the community. Teachers can support students as they develop these skills by modeling these behaviors and requiring that students in the classroom do the same.
  2. Courage – Persistence, reliance, and the ability to act in spite of one’s fears are components of courage. Teachers can support students as they develop these skills by speaking the language of courage, encouraging a growth mindset, and by sharing examples of courage from both literary works and real life.
  3. Ethical Responsibility – A sense of fairness, judgments regarding right and wrong, and the ability to accept responsibility are elements of ethical responsibility within a community. Teachers can support students as they develop these skills by demonstrating ethical responsibility, discussing ethical behaviors, and providing examples through literary works and real life. Students can also grow from age appropriate dialogues related to these elements.
  4. Civic Responsibility – Examination of community needs and working to improve the human condition within a community are part of civic responsibility. Teachers can support students as they develop these skills by holding classroom and school elections, examining examples for literary works and real life, and speaking the language of civic responsibility.
  5. Social Justice – Members of all communities have basic human rights, such as food, water, shelter, and the right to move. Members of all communities have a responsibility to protect all other community members from violations of these rights. Teachers can support students develop their understanding of basic human dignities and share examples of how communities protect their own members.
  6. Service – Service to others is a part of being a community member. Teachers can support students as they develop service skills through service learning projects and reflecting on the impact of those projects. Service can be rendered within the classroom, school, or community at large.
  7. Leadership – Author and speaker John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. With that definition in mind, it’s easy to see that all students have some level of influence within their peer group, classroom, school, and community. Teachers can support students as they develop leadership skills by knowing students and their areas of strength, identifying opportunities for students to lead within their areas of strength, and examining examples of leadership in action via literary works or real life stories.

As you prepare for next week, think about the opportunities available in your classroom to develop community-building skills. Be intentional in planning for student growth in this area. You and your students will benefit greatly from your efforts!

Supporting the Development of Social Skills

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social skillsSocial skills are those that allow us to interact with others. Students need the opportunity to learn and practice social skills in a safe place, such as a classroom or school. In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith identify areas in which classroom teachers can provide developmental support (pp.91-115):

  1. Prosocial behavior – Sharing, helping, and teamwork are necessary components within relationships. Classroom jobs, roles, and responsibilities help students develop these skills.
  2. Relationship building – Student-teacher relationships, peer relationships, and the relationship with the school can be fostered within the classroom environment. Teachers should model behaviors they want to see develop within the students.
  3. Communication – Teachers can model communication behaviors, such as attentive listening, asking questions, paraphrasing, acknowledging emotions and feelings, and summarizing. These behaviors can be reinforced through classroom displays and classroom norms.
  4. Empathy – Being able to understand how others may feel in any given situation is critical to the social development of students. Teachers can model empathy by speaking the language of feelings, encouraging students to share their own feelings and experience, praising empathy, teaching nonverbal cues, and giving students responsibilities that require empathy.
  5. Relationship repair – Teachers can help students navigate relationship repair by modeling those behaviors in their classrooms. Impromptu conversations with students when they are experiencing a relationship breakdown can provide teachable moments.

As you prepare for next week, take into consideration all the opportunities your students will have to build social skills. Be overt in demonstrating the skills you want to see developed in your students. They will benefit greatly from your efforts!

Supporting the Development of Cognitive Regulation

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cognitive regulationCognitive regulation is the ability to help oneself learn by being an active participant in the learning process. Students need the opportunity to develop and practice a variety of skills in order to become self-regulated learners.

In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith identify skills related to cognitive regulation and provide information regarding classroom supports for each (pp. 69-87):

  1. Metacognition – Students learn to think about their thinking when they are asked to summarize, ask questions, dialogue with peers, and provide predictions. Teachers can model metacognition by thinking aloud and modeling questions, dialogue, and prediction.
  2. Attention – Sustained directed thinking is an important part of cognitive regulation. Teachers can help students improve their attention by reducing distractions (remember, there really is no such thing as multi-tasking in the brain), teaching them what to do when with ideas that interrupt thinking and cause a loss of focus and how to regain focus. Teachers can use timers and intentional brain breaks to help students sustain their thinking.
  3. Goal setting – Setting goals related to classroom activities helps students maintain motivation. Mastery goals positively impact student learning. Teachers can model mastery by articulating their own goals to students and encouraging students to articulate their goals.
  4. Recognizing and resolving problems – Students sometimes need help recognizing and resolving problems. Teachers can help students solve problems by asking questions, restating problems, helping students write down steps, and making plans of action. Teachers can also assist students with help seeking and decision-making as they relate to seeing and solving problems.
  5. Organization – Charts, checklists, folder systems, and routines all help students manage the information necessary for learning.

As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you can help students further develop the skills necessary for cognitive regulation. You and your students will be glad you took the time to do so.

Supporting the Development of Emotional Regulation

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emotional self regulationEmotional regulation requires the ability to identify emotions and properly manage them. Children and young adults will need to develop and practice these skills over and over throughout their school-aged years. As such, it’s important that educators prepare the environment to support the development of emotional regulation.

In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith identify several areas in which teachers can support students and provide suggestions for how to do so (pp. 46-65)

  1. Identifying emotions – Use word walls to teach students the language of feelings and emotions.
  2. Emotional self-perception – Use visuals such as Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions or Kuypers Zones of Regulation to help students recognize their emotional states.
  3. Impulse control – Help students identify triggers that cause them to act out and create action plans for managing the desire to lash out (i.e. count to 10, take a deep breath, talk it out, escape).
  4. Delayed gratification – Set classroom goals that result in rewards.
  5. Stress management – Supports may include positive talk (both from the teacher and from the student), breathing techniques, espousing an open posture, using practice activities before graded activities, and programs that increase student understanding of stress and its impact on academic functioning.
  6. Coping – Employing healthy distractors such as positive talk, a walk or other physical activity, can help students cope with the stressors in the school setting.

As you prepare for next week, be intentional in planning for student emotions and the supports you build for them. You and your students will be glad you took the time to do so!

Supporting the Development of Student Identity and Agency

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student identity and agency 2Student identity (the sense of who the person is) and agency (the sense of capability to act independently) is continually growing and changing. As classroom teachers, we have the ability to undertake actions that will help positively influence student identity and agency. In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith identify six areas related to identity and agency, and they share suggestions for classroom supports for each (pp. 22-37):

  1. Recognize strengths – Have students regularly identify their own strengths. Provide feedback regarding the learning process and about student self-regulation during the task. Give opportunities for practicing a variety of activities and discuss successes with students. Employ “I can” checklists for students to use during and after academic tasks.
  2. Self-confidence – Develop tasks that provide for social interaction. Develop activities that require students to share reasoning and actions. Employ dialogue frequently.
  3. Self-efficacy – Encourage students to believe in themselves and their ability to complete the tasks assigned. Share examples of prior student successes on work. Create picture displays showing students participating in the learning process and completing their work.
  4. Growth mindset – Embrace the power of “yet” and remind students that they are growing. Employ active interventions that involve writing (journaling, story telling) and discussion.
  5. Perseverance and grit – As able, refer to characters (both real and fictional) that demonstrated grit. Identify student interests and leverage those to increase perseverance and grit. Remind students that there are opportunities to help others in need by persevering.
  6. Resiliency – Help students develop relationships with peers and adults in the building. Establish clear routines and order for classrooms. Share stories of those who overcome. Mirror student strengths. Help and serve others.

As you prepare for your classes next week, think of ways that you can further foster the development of student identity and agency. Your students will be glad you did!

 

 

The Impact of Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

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happy childrenWe are learning more and more about the positive impact of social-emotional learning in the classroom. In their book All Learning Is Social And Emotional: Helping Students Develop Essential Skills for the Classroom And Beyond, authors Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Dominique Smith share the results from a meta-analytic study of 213 Social-Emotional Learning programs involving 270,034 students in grades K-12. The study found statistically significant positive gains in the following six areas based upon the implementation of a social-emotional learning curriculum in the classroom (pp. 9-10):

  1. Improved Social Emotional Skills, specifically in the areas of identifying emotions, goal setting, perspective taking, interpersonal problem solving, conflict resolution, and decision making (effect size = .62)
  2. Improved Academic Performance, specifically in the areas of standardized reading or math achievement scores and classroom grades (effect size = .34)
  3. Improved Positive Social Behavior, specifically getting along with others (effect size =.26)
  4. Reduced Emotional Distress, specifically depression, anxiety, stress, or withdrawal (effect size = .25)
  5. Improved Attitudes Toward Self and Others, specifically self-perceptions, school bonding, and prosocial beliefs (effect size = .23)
  6. Reduced Conduct Problems, specifically disruptions of class, noncompliance, aggression, bullying, and suspensions (effect size = .20)

Over the next few weeks, we will explore a social-emotional learning framework that could be beneficial for classroom practice. I encourage you to thoughtfully consider how this might positively impact your classroom. You and your students will be glad you did!