New Social Awareness Toolkit Released for Educators

Transforming Education has launched a new free resource for educators: our toolkit on social awareness. Social awareness is the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures; to understand social and ethical norms for behavior; and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.[1] Like other TransformEd toolkits, the Social Awareness Toolkit is a 90-minute professional development session, designed for educators seeking research-based strategies to support students in developing this particular competency. Educators who download this free resource will have access to an editable version of the session materials so they can customize them as needed for their own context. The toolkit provides:

  •  Detailed information on what social awareness is and why it matters;

  •  A video in which students describe the importance of social awareness in their own lives;

  • A range of strategies that teachers can integrate into their practice at all grade levels; and

  • A facilitators guide (including an abbreviated guide for a 45-minute session).

Research suggests that students with strong social awareness adapt more easily to their environment, empathize with the perspectives of others, and engage in fewer disruptive classroom behaviors. This, in turn, creates an environment where students can focus on learning.[2] [3] [4] Findings also suggest that students who demonstrate strong social awareness are able to engage in constructive communication with their peers and resolve conflicts when they arise. These students benefit from peer learning and know how to take advantage of social supports.[5]

 Moreover, social awareness is widely established as an important factor in workforce success. One recent employer survey conducted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills demonstrates that four of the five most important skills for high school graduates entering the work force are linked to social awareness: professionalism, collaboration, communication, and social responsibility.[6]

Students who are able to adapt to new environments, understand the needs and perspectives of others, and know where to get support when they need it are less prone to emotional distress and less likely to engage in risk behaviors, such as drug use and aggression, that interfere with school success.[7]

Transforming Education is now working on two additional (Self-Efficacy and Mindfulness), which we expect to release later this year.

[1] CASEL.org (http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/core-competencies/)

[2] Baker, J. Grant, s., & Morlock, L.(2008). The teacher–student relationship as a developmental context for children with internalizing or externalizing behavior problems. School Psychology Quarterly, 23(1), 3-15.

[3] Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2001). Early teacher–child relationships and the trajectory of children’s school outcomes through eighth grade. Child Development, 72(2), 625-638.

[4] Murray, C., & Malmgren, K. (2005). Implementing a teacher–student relationship program in a high-poverty urban school: Effects on social, emotional, and academic adjustment and lessons learned. Journal of School Psychology, 43(2), 137-152.

[5] Gehlbach, H., Young, L. V., & Roan, L. K. (2012). Teaching social perspective taking: how educators might learn from the Army. Educational Psychology, 32(3), 295-309.

[6] Casner-Lotto, J., & Barrington, L. (2006). Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century US Workforce. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 1 Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001.

[7] Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., O'Brien, M. U., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H., & Elias, M. J. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American psychologist58(6-7), 466.