While educators and parents value social emotional development, how can schools actually incorporate these skills when their “plates are full” of requirements? Gathering at Lake George, New York, educational leaders and social emotional learning experts met to find solutions.
What are the challenges educators face today, and how can we support them to strengthen these foundational skills in a systemic, comprehensive, measurable way? What resources are there to help educators start–and continue–in this process?
Three Key SEL Resources
From the “Integrating Academic,
Social & Emotional Learning”
A growing body of research on social emotional learning shows that the skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) are invaluable. Children with strong EQ skills make more positive choices, feel more balanced, form healthier relationships, and achieve higher academic results. This confluence led Dr. Ed Dunkelblau to write that while educators’ “plates” are full, we need to remember: social and emotional skills ARE the plate on which all other learning fails or flourishes.
Thank you, Educational Vistas, for inviting Six Seconds to the first “Integrating Academic, Social & Emotional Learning” (ASEL) conference on September 13 in Lake George, New York. It was our pleasure to join SEL giant Dr. Maurice Elias (Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab) and other leaders in social emotional learning. In the video above, Six Seconds CEO Josh Freedman welcomes ASEL members to the conference with a powerful message about the importance of social emotional learning.
With numerous school SEL directors, principals, and superintendents in attendance, the ASEL meeting provided K-12 leadership with roadmaps for implementation of social emotional learning into academic settings. Here are resources around three of the top challenges identified at the meeting:
Other key takeaways from the conference:
- There is increasing pressure at the state level to amplify, track, and evaluate SEL initiatives in K-12 schools.
Action: Use validated tools to measure EQ and school climate.
- Even though many parents, teachers, and school leaders believe SEL skills are important, it can be challenging to ask teachers to incorporate these skills into traditional academics when their schedules are already jam-packed and when they did not grow up experiencing SEL firsthand.
Action: Commit to growing EQ skills with the adults as well as the students.
- Research has shown that learning is a social emotional experience; therefore, all schools already have rituals, values, and programs that are in the process of either building or eroding their academic, social, and emotional climates. Getting started with SEL means evaluating current offerings and setting appropriate goals for the community.
Action: Engage in a dialogue using the Benchmarks for SEL as a discussion tool: What are we already doing? Where do we want to focus our growth?
Ellen Connors (ASEL organizer), Cherilyn Leet (Six Seconds), Maurice Elias, Susan Stillman (Six Seconds)
One of the most widely discussed questions at ASEL was “How can I mobilize others around SEL initiatives?” The Starter Kit mentioned above is a great tool. In addition, Dr. Maurice Elias offers seven tips for talking about SEL, including this gem: education stakeholders need to understand that, while change is scary and temporarily disruptive, the status quo for our children cannot and never will be enough.
Lastly, educators are seeking exemplar lessons so they can experiment with using SEL more actively in the classroom. There are multiple sources of free, quality SEL lessons including:
Six Seconds’ Library with a variety of resources, includes SEL lessons
InspirED at Facebook includes guides for youth to lead SEL initiatives
Peppy Pals EQ Platform offers a free trial to access content for ages 3-9
NBC’s Parent Toolkit with resources & tips for parents as well as children