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Monday, March 25, 2019

Social Emotional Learning

A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity of co-moderating the #escchat (elementary school counselor chat). It was an amazing time collaborating with school counselors from all over the country on the topic of social emotional learning. Social emotional learning is the buzz word everyone is talking about and for good reason. But what exactly is it? It is often used in conjunction with character building and guidance lessons. While it does have some of those components, social emotional learning is much more than that. It is a required life skill set.

The What
Social emotional learning is how we (adults and children) learn to manage our emotions while also understanding them. Self regulation and emotional awareness are key to this. It also encompasses showing empathy, being responsible, making responsible decisions, and establishing and maintaining positive relationships.

Social emotional learning is not another program or initiative that a campus or district puts into place. Social emotional learning is a skill set that we must have to be healthy kids and adults.

The Why
Research shows that incorporating social emotional learning boosts student achievement. And that is no surprise. I am a big believer that we can't get to Bloom's without meeting Maslow, meaning that our students cannot get to those high levels of learning if basic needs aren't met (safety, basic needs, belonging).

SEL is also proven to help with behavior. If students are taught how to regulate emotions, be empathetic, and how to have positive relationships, behavior concerns will decrease. For example, think of a student that may have outbursts or get upset easily. If taught healthy self regulation skills, they will not only be able to utilize those strategies, but as they get older, they will be able to regulate feelings of frustration and anger in a healthy way.

When I was an elementary counselor in a larger, urban school district I began studying SEL (around 2013). The campus that I served consisted of around 91% low socioeconomic students and we also had the opportunity to serve refugee students from Burma, Nepal, and the Congo. It was vital to teach these skills just as we taught curriculum for content areas.

I think that is the key to social emotional learning. It is not a program. It is not a temporary "buzz" topic. It is a needed set of skills for students to be well equipped as they grow older.

Many believe that social emotional learning is character building and comes from a counselor. Social emotional learning isn't just about highlighting a character trait or receiving a guidance lesson from a campus counselor (while those are all wonderful things). It is a whole campus teaching approach that is best for ALL kids. Another misconception is that social emotional learning is provided or focused on solely for students who are currently struggling with behavior or emotions. Yet, SEL is beneficial for ALL students. It could be beneficial for adults, too. Think of how often you may see people get so upset and not be able to control their emotions. While we are all human, it is important to be able to regulate ourselves and our emotions so they we can interact in positive ways with others.

Everywhere you turn, SEL is being discussed. With it being such a needed skill, where can you turn for support and guidance?

Below you can find some wonderful resources from organizations that solely focus on Social Emotional Learning. I am currently also working on resources and resource guides that will be available in my TPT store. Follow @stylishschoolcounselor on Facebook (here) or Instagram (@stylishschoolcounselorblog) for updates.

CASEL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Edutopia: They have a wonderful page of SEL resources and articles

Whether you are a classroom teacher who is wanting to equip your students with more than academic support or a counselor who wants to spark the conversation of incorporating SEL into your everyday routine...you are taking a very exciting step. It all starts somewhere!

Want to see more posts like this? Check out my post on Mindfulness here!


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