In classrooms worldwide, educators have known FOR YEARS about the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for student success. We have spent countless hours helping kids and families deal with issues that were not directly related to academics. School attendance, apathy, poor decision-making skills and behavioral issues impact academic success.
It seems to me that research studies that supported SEL skills have been almost ignored in recent education. Instead, the path to academic success has been paved with standards and testing. I am happy to see that policymakers have finally re-routed the focus of education success to include social and emotional learning. However, the recent detours have been expensive in both money and lost student learning.
SEL: Better Late Than Never?
I consider myself an optimistic educator. I believe in the power and the importance of education. Although I believe that SEL are necessary in the classroom, I am skeptical that teachers will be able find the time to include the curriculum and most importantly do it well. Teachers already have a “full plate of mandates”. Policymakers are reacting (although delayed) with guidance and resources, but they are expecting teachers to fix a major issue in a 7-hour day. Social and emotional learning is a 24-hour job and must start when a child is young. It should not be a “subject” to be taught in school. These skills should begin in the home and be reinforced in school and by childcare providers throughout a child’s life.
What Are Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills?
Social Emotional Learning Skills help students be “ready to learn”. They help kids understand and manage their emotions. They are necessary to establish positive relationships, to feel and show empathy and helps kids learn to make responsible decisions.
7 Social Emotional Learning Skills: Quick and Easy
- Self-Awareness: A realistic understanding of strengths and limitations and consistent desire for self-improvement.
- Self-Management: Controlling behaviors to complete a task or succeed in a new situation.
- Social Awareness: Interacting with others that shows respect for themselves and others.
- Relationship Skills: Being able to maintain positive connections with others.
- Goal-Directed Behavior: Persistence in completing tasks.
- Personal Responsibility: Responsible for actions and contributing to group efforts.
- Decision Making: Learning to make good choices and accept responsibility for decisions.
- Optimistic Thinking: Positive thinking about oneself and life situations.
Better Late Than Never, I Guess
Although I’m cautious about its effectiveness, I am happy to see an abundance of SEL information being distributed to support the initiative. New York State Education Department has created a very good guidance and resource document to support classroom teachers. I invite classroom teachers, anywhere, to look at the resources and see MY New York State tax dollars at work!
Children will be more “ready to learn” if we all work together to help them manage their social and emotional needs. Please share this information with anyone that has children in their lives so SEL can start today.