Social and Emotional Learning Takes Center Stage
In The Media
There has been alot of media attention recently on the social and emotional learning of our school-age children. You can’t turn on a TV or open a newspaper without reading about our overstressed and overworked kids.
Movies like the recently released “Waiting For Superman” and “Race to Nowhere” highlight the academic and emotional pressures our kids are buckling under. They are buckling because of the pressure to get into a “good” college and our efforts to boost standards and performance in our public schools.
Social Challenges and Pressures
Furthermore, the social lives of children are no less under the microscope. A rash of horrifying reports about bullying and teasing have painted a bleak picture about the social minefield in our schools. As a result, they have prompted elected officials from dozens of states to pass anti-bullying legislation and other forms of protection for our most vulnerable students.
Teaching Ways To Counter Social and Emotional Challenges
Fortunately, according to a study released in the journal Child Development, kids can learn social, emotional, and academic intelligence. For instance, they can develop the sense of empathy, integrity, and resilience necessary to navigate through their everyday lives.
For years, we have debated the educational efficacy of social and emotional learning. It has become the ultimate in either/or propositions. You can have a rigorous classroom. Or, you can have a warm, nurturing, environment. However, you can’t have both. What this new study demonstrates is that children who learn discreet skills in social emotional instruction can improve on their academic success. In fact, students who took part in SEL improved in grades and standardized test scores by 11 percentage points.
And, these same kids demonstrated drastic improvement in a range of non-academic skills. There was a reduction in bullying and suspensions resulting in an increase in emotional well-being and attitude toward school.
Teachers Are The Answer
Interestingly, the researchers also found that the most effective SEL programs were teacher-based and not program based. They were simple and grounded in the students’ everyday experience as opposed to complex and comprehensive school-wide initiatives.
The paradigm shift that this study represents is potentially enormous. Although there is a need for more research, this study suggests that programs which focus on the outcomes of social illiteracy, like bullying and truancy, need to be re-thought. They should include more classroom-based efforts to develop the front-end social skills and emotional capacity in their students. As a result, they will negate the need for the end-point prevention programs in the first place.
Social and Emotional Learning is obviously not a new concept. However, it is gaining credence and respect as an essential component of a school’s curriculum and culture. For more information, I encourage you to visit the Coalition for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) at www.casel.org
School of the Month- The Tremont School- http://www.tremontschool.org/
The Tremont School is a new coeducational day school in Metrowest Boston with a unique mission. It provides an experiential education that focuses on a child’s academic, social, and emotional development.
A group of parents and educators founded The Tremont School. Above all, the school combines the best of both public and private schools. They include the vibrancy and variety of a public school community with the care and individualized approach to learning that are the hallmarks of an independent school education.
As such, the school is designed to meet the needs of a variety of students who have been unable to find a home in their local public or traditional private schools in the area.
The Tremont school has developed a unique experiential learning environment to support its mission. A multi-disciplinary project-based model called The Living Curriculum is at the heart of the school. The Living Curriculum takes a highly personalized approach to education focusing on our students’ strengths, interests, and individual learning styles. The goal of is to promote the intrinsic understanding of the material through a guided discovery process. It is interdisciplinary in nature and hands-on in approach.
For more information, please visit our website at www.tremontschool.org or call us at 508-808-0280. If you would like to read more about anxiety in schools, you can go to https://globaledconnector.org/anxiety-in-schools/
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