The learning and life benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL) are well-established (see CASEL research for a few of the most recent SEL research studies). In schools, classroom teachers have opportunities to build SEL competencies and skills — especially in the areas of collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork. Here are some ideas from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) SEL Fellows for classroom teachers interested in creating classroom environments that support relationship skills with peers.
“It turns out that the learning that happens in the 80% of waking hours that are spent out of school (between the ages of 5-18) has as much to do with achievement gaps that show up in school as anything in the school. We can’t expect a 20% solution to solve 100% of the problem; we’ve got to address the inequalities of enrichment and stimulating activities outside of school.” - Professor Paul Reville, Harvard University Graduate School of Education / Education Redesign Lab
In education, we sometimes fall into an acronym trap: ESSA. IEP. ELA. SEL. Or we default to rattling off statistics as shorthand for what we’re really talking about. And sometimes, this kind of secret education code serves us well. It allows us to transmit information efficiently. But it also comes at a price if we forget to balance it out with stories about the humans at the center of our work.
On October 25, 2017, TransformEd co-hosted Social-Emotional Learning (SEL): A Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Opportunity with the Center for the Collaborative Classroom (CCC). The summit, held in Westborough, Mass., brought together nearly 200 educators throughout the state to highlight the importance of teaching, leading, and learning about SEL.
Over the past six months, I’ve had the great pleasure of traveling to districts across the country to speak with and learn from our new school partners who are committed to integrating important Mindsets, Essential Skills, and Habits (MESH), such as growth mindset and social awareness, into their daily practice. At the start of most of these engagements, educators tend to ask me one question more than any other: “Where do we begin?”
What does social emotional learning look like in the elementary school classroom? How do students develop the mindsets, essential skills and habits necessary for success in school, and in life? Social emotional learning is everywhere. It is all the time. It is invisible, yet you can see it everywhere you turn. And it is essential. Social emotional learning unfolded during the first 20 days of the school year for me and my 3rd graders in Wilmington, Delaware in many ways.
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or student, autumn is full of new classes, practices, rehearsals, and appointments. With these demands, it’s difficult to stay engaged and up-to-speed on anything, let alone developments in students’ Mindsets, Essential Skills, and Habits (MESH). But we know that you value MESH, and that your school is most likely working to build these skills. We also know that it can be time-consuming to track the latest resources and information about competencies that research shows matters to student life outcomes. TransformEd is here to help.
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. 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.
As a talent development consultant, when contracted to develop "onboarding" or "new hire" programs for fresh-to-the-workforce hires, I'm most often asked to create learning experiences that will teach business communication, relationship management, conflict resolution, professionalism & etiquette, time management, research & analysis, listening skills, and solving problems as a team.
"They are intelligent, capable, and technically savvy," one client said of his new sales hires, "but they show up not knowing how to behave and engage professionally in the workplace. They have to be told not to curse when speaking to clients, that ripped jeans are inappropriate work attire, and that e-mails need to be written in complete sentences. "
Professional organizations and businesses alike are all lauding this new crop of employees as highly qualified, innovative, ambitious, and skilled; however, their shortcomings in soft skills are impeding their success in the workplace.
We are excited to be featured in yesterday's article on social-emotional skills (or “MESH”) on the front page of the New York Times. It's great to see the recognition for this important cause, and we love hearing about teachers like Ms. Cooney who are proactively supporting students in building the skills they need to succeed within school and beyond. Teachers like Ms. Cooney make us even more proud of the work we’ve done so far to support the CORE Districts, which have incorporated social-emotional skills and school culture/climate into their school accountability and continuous improvement system. As with any systems change effort, this has given rise to many questions. We understand the concerns about how MESH measures should be used, and we take those concerns seriously. We also know that part of having a Growth Mindset is committing to putting in the effort, reflecting on what we’re learning, and continuously improving the approach over time. We believe MESH measures aren’t perfect…yet...