Our new and deeper understanding of human development is reshaping how and to promote positive relationships and attitudes about school. But this is where SEL can start to shift the tide as fostering social and emotional skills is contagious: when people see us caring, they want to follow in kind. Welcome to our social-emotional learning (SEL) hub. Read on for our For Educators: Humans of Your School Strategy · For Educators. school-based social and emotional learning (SEL). Maintain Positive Relationships. Make Responsible Decisions. Skills. Knowledge . caring relationships.
SEL helped me realize that I needed to improve my social-emotional skills, too. So I told my students that becoming socially-emotionally intelligent is a lifelong goal and that perhaps we could work on these skills together—help keep each other in check.
Social-Emotional Learning: Why Now?
And they really do call me out sometimes. With the high attrition rate of teachers—a whopping 50 percent in the first five years— teacher self-care is crucial, if not imperative, for the profession.
Associate Superintendent Brigitte Marshall articulated this understanding along with her role as a leader in promoting teacher self-care throughout the district: The direction given by the district is that these things matter and will actually make you more effective in doing what you care about.
But we constantly need reminders when the work becomes urgent to take care of ourselves—so that we come to work ready to do good work as opposed to fatigued and exhausted. To have the district institutionally name that this is important makes a huge difference, which is why I took my role as an ambassador of SEL throughout the district very, very seriously. If this is to permeate the district, then leaders have to take it seriously and lead in a certain way.
Knowing this was the expectation of me, I could not be hypocritical and talk about work-life balance and improving interpersonal skills without focusing on improving these things for myself. And, according to researchpeople who find meaning in their work have higher levels of job satisfaction, motivation, and performance.
But oftentimes the stress and demands of the profession cause teachers to lose sight of this meaning—which can lead to burnout and teacher attrition.
SEL helps to restore this meaning. SEL completely changed the way I taught and it made me more excited to go back this year.
Mindfulness in and out of the Classroomfound that SEL renewed her love of teaching: Before I started working with SEL, sometimes I got so stressed that I lost contact with my original intention for becoming a teacher. SEL has rekindled that light inside of me. Applications are due January 1, Read more about the Summer Institute.
The relationship between teachers and students is at the heart of learning, and most teachers intuitively know this. Research has shown that students who experience a caring relationship with a teacher are more motivated to learn, and, hence, they enjoy school more and demonstrate greater academic success. Teresa Collins, an associate professor of education, described how SEL not only gave her a deeper understanding of the connections she forged with students, but also shifted how she viewed her students.
But SEL helped me to see the even greater importance and significance in these informal connections.
As a result, I saw my students in a more compassionate way than I had before. SEL simply, but powerfully, changed the way I viewed them as individuals. Lora Bird shared how she used SEL to help a student in her Kindergarten classroom—who had experienced a lot of ongoing trauma—thrive in school: This student came to me with a core of defiance—she would rip up her papers, run away, and be quite obstinate.
Most teachers would have labeled her oppositional-defiant, created a big file on her, and sent her to a counselor.
She started to open up to me and tell me why she was so sad and disappointed. It took about two months to turn her around — so that instead of acting out, she could tell me her story or draw a picture, then let the situation go and bounce away.
I think of a quote I read in a book: We also know from research that compassion is contagious: A paradigm shift in education The skills taught through SEL, all of which benefit ourselves and others, ultimately help us to cultivate more positive emotions.
When that happens, we will identify less with the self-centered, selfish side that wreaks havoc in the world, and more with our innate altruistic side that, for lack of a better phrase, makes the world a better place for us and others.
This is when we will begin to see a paradigm shift in the purpose of education. Instead of using education as a tool to satisfy our self-serving, competitive needs—such as making as much money as possible, particularly through unethical means and to the detriment of others—education will be seen as a tool to serve the greater good.
Our educational practices and environments will shift towards nurturing the long-term well-being and happiness of students who, through their own experience of being cared for, will naturally care for those around them. And students who understand how to care for themselves and others will be better equipped to care for the world. A slightly different version of this piece originally appeared in Southeast Education Network Magazine.
Greater Good wants to know: Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?