Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) – My Own Essential Learnings…

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been at the forefront of my thinking over the past two weeks. I immensely believe that in order for educators to be able to enable students in academic learning, Physical, Social and Emotional needs must be met or at least have a plan in place for developing the needed competencies.

Basically, a student cannot learn if they are hungry, are anxious about what is happening in their home, or worried about their safety. As well, if they do not have the skills or competencies to deal with issues, concerns, and disputes as they arise, they will have a difficult day in a school where they must live and learn with hundreds of other students and adult staff.

The Circle of Courage is a major part of the culture and tradition of Keeler School, and has been the biggest factor in the development of a philosophy that builds and recognizes the development of citizenship, belonging, generosity, independence and mastery. I think the next step for us is looking at how we actively teach and coach students, all students, in developing their SEL competencies and skills.

In that regard, what do we need to do to improve to enable student learning in both Social and Emotional Learning, as well as setting them up for improvement and success in academic learning?

Develop a school culture of citizenship and SEL… We must live SEL through the culture of the school through common language, understandings, focus, and intentionality. The Circle of Courage will remain our cultural foundation, but now we need to reflect on how we better enable the development of the skills and competencies that build on that foundation.

We must be direct teaching in the development of SEL competencies… We sometimes forget that students do not automatically gain these skills through osmosis.

We must be purposeful in working to enable students to develop SEL competencies… This is not something to be left to chance. We use class meetings, teachable moments, guided inquiry, and specific, focused lessons so students can develop these competences from Kindergarten on through their school career.

This is long-term learning, not a short-term solution… This will not solve all of our issues, but we will see a change in the school culture through this work. This will help us to move beyond reactive.

We must find ways to be proactive in working with students around behavioral, social, and emotional needs… I believe students can learn, all students, how better to work with and get along with others, as well as about their own social and emotional needs and lagging skills.

Teachers, Staff and Administrators must all act as positive role models and coaches… If we are not modeling this, with each other, with kids, with parents, who will?

When an issue does arise (as they always will), we must look at the core of the issue and examine what the lagging skills are, then work to develop and coach students… What is the core of this issue? What does the student need to improve? How do we coach them to build them up?

When a student is referred to the office, we must support students with strategies where we are role modeling as well… How can we assist them in learning to self-regulate after the escalation, as well as build up strategies and supports to prevent the escalation in the first place?

  • Do they need food, as they are hungry?
  • Give them some time. Whenever I rush this process, I find it just is not effective…
  • Use of consistent resources such as Strategy posters that can guide the student’s reflection and guide discussion between kids and adults.
  • An exercise bike or an individual trampoline – I have experimented with having an exercise bike available for students (if they choose to use it) as an active way to self-regulate, rather than “Sit down and be quiet.” I have a visual timer that we set for a specific time for them to use the bike. The early results have been great, when the kids choose to use it… Often a student who was highly escalated comes off smiling!
  • The implementation of a Sensory Room – A place with mats, swings or special rocking chairs, exercise balls, individual trampoline, calming lights, etc.
  • One principal shared that she has a Velcro target board with Velcro Ping-Pong balls that the students love to use, which is also a great distractor.
  • Pulse Meters as part of Math, but to have students check their pulse rate and then have them do self-calming. It is also a distraction or diversion…
  • Another principal shared that she keeps a bin of mixed up markers that needs to be sorted by a students, and it magically keeps getting mixed up!
  • Time for Writing for students to be able to think and reflect
  • Time for Reading as a calming strategy
  • A problem-solving process that students are used to, whether it is individual and quiet or it is guided and collaborative with an adult.
  • I think probably the biggest factor and strategy is how much of a focus on SEL takes place in the classrooms in the students’ daily lives at school. This work enables administrators in the office to build on the learning that is already taking place!

This is my thinking at the moment. I can’t wait to engage in further learning and collaboration with my colleagues!


5 Responses to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) – My Own Essential Learnings…

  1. Grade Two Team says:

    This week the grade two team came together to examine resources that would assist in creating and engaging unit plan for the study of the Acadians in Social Studies. There were several read-a-louds that could be connected to this topic and we will be trying to have students compare the communities and ask bigger, higher level thinking questions. We are also working on wrapping up our science unit on insects and will be having the students work on some art projects that connect to what they have studied and learned. We will sketch and create wire insects and students will present their artwork along with their independent work. As a team we also examined how to go about completing assessment in a formative and authentic manner. We also examined the ends statements for the last reporting period and determined some different areas we would like to pursue to assist students in formulating an understanding of their work and growth throughout the year.

  2. Jen says:

    The grade one team and Room 18 discussed upcoming field trips and organized groups for Tracy Franks. We talked about our plant unit and discussed when we wanted to start planting so students could get their hands dirty and begin to see what it takes to care for a plant. Our group also talked about how students are asking to research about animals. The year is coming to an end very fast so we discussed how we could implement an animal research project in the timeframe we have. The research will build on the independent technology skills we’ve been working on all year.

  3. Grade 4/3 says:

    Grade 3&4 discussed some of the more difficult challenges related to students in their social interactions within the classroom and strategies to support their functioning within the classroom environment. We explored ideas relating to why certain students are exhibiting particular behaviors, how those behaviors affect others around them, and what can be done to maintain a positive environment for all students.
    Discussion was also focused on the development of mathematical literacy skills and how we are working to achieve strength in this.
    Ideas and information was traded between group members regarding assistive technology which might benefit particular students in their struggles with literacy, and shared student work demonstrating successes and limitations we’ve found in dealing with these technologies.

  4. The Grade 6 Team says:

    The Grade 6 team has planned several large and multi-step art projects that integrate different mediums and techniques in conjunction with our short story and creative writing projects. We have been working on injecting as much personal meaning into these projects as possible so that students can really invest in the work and create something that they want to treasure.

  5. Bent says:

    The Grade 5 team met and discussed upcoming social and science units. We have made a plan of where we want to go and are now looking for great chemistry experiment ideas. We are planning to have the students write about an important event that has shaped Canada. We are also looking at a poetry cafe so the students can show case their work. We also looked at our reading testing. We are now heading to Weaselhead to check out our field trip for Friday.

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