Schools 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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
Emotional 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)
- Identifying emotions – Use word walls to teach students the language of feelings and emotions.
- Emotional self-perception – Use visuals such as Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions or Kuypers Zones of Regulation to help students recognize their emotional states.
- 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).
- Delayed gratification – Set classroom goals that result in rewards.
- 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.
- 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!
Student 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):
- 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.
- Self-confidence – Develop tasks that provide for social interaction. Develop activities that require students to share reasoning and actions. Employ dialogue frequently.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!