At the same time, there's a lot of pressure for counselors to do this right. We may be one of the only people in the building with deep knowledge of social emotional learning best practices. I use the analogy of technology in the classrooms. When we started getting more computers, smart boards, and then iPads (I'm old, don't remind me), the entire staff turned and looked at the technology teacher. Great, they thought, our students can learn technology from that person and I can keep on with my usual. Now, we wouldn't dream of only one person in the building teaching technology as a separate entity from core instruction. I think the same will happen with SEL. It's a heavy lift for counselors right now but eventually we can build the capacity of our whole staff to not just teach SEL but to incorporate social emotional learning into the curriculum as a whole.
Social Emotional Learning as a Practice
- SEL lessons with explicit instruction: counselors teach these in their curriculum but teachers do too! When a teacher introduces a project based learning activity to students, they often go over expected behaviors and organizational strategies. That's explicit step-by-step instruction.
- Teaching practices that create positive conditions that support social and emotional development in students: students have to feel emotional and socially safe at school in order to learn social and emotional skills. Culturally responsive instruction is going to be a huge part of this. Schoolwide expectations and tier one practices like PBIS are in this tier as well.
- Integration of instruction and practice of SEL in the academic curriculum: This is more than teaching expected behaviors. This involves actually incorporating SEL competencies into instruction in a meaningful way.
- Policies and organizational structures: When we have policies and structures in place that support SEL as a clear priority for the school they are much more likely to happen.
- What competencies/skills are listed under the core competency?
- Why it matters - why do students need to have this skills to be successful?
- Students will - a list of observable behaviors for students at each grade level.
- Teachers will - a list of observable strategies that teachers can implement. This is a great resource for ideas.
Overall it went really well and I think the staff walked away with new learning and reflection. If you'd like to snag the entire presentation and materials, you can find it here.