June 6th, 2020

Expanded Learning as Essential Collaborator

We have such a tremendous opportunity to reimagine education: our structures, our systems and the ways in which we interact with our families, community based partners, internal departments and with each other. It is imperative that we break down our traditional silos, develop authentic relationships with a broader network and work together. When we operate without agenda and pretense, directed by our common ground for the well-being of ALL children, we can achieve greatness. We can restart in this moment. Let us not hesitate. The future of our humanity depends on our ability to build healthy relationships and incorporate SEL in everything we do.

SEL is a mindset. I believe SEL is not a separate class or circle on a Venn diagram. SEL is the key to the equitable system we talk about in UDL practices. SEL is a key to social justice. SEL is the foundational element that drives student success in all areas of young peoples’ lives.

District and community based organization staff working in Expanded Learning Programs have developed deep relationships with students and guardians. In some communities, this relationship with family and school community spans generations. During COVID, it has been these relationships that have meant all the difference between a child engaging in school or slipping through the cracks. We must continue to work together so that we can identify where the strength of those relationships exists to ensure all children and families remain engaged.

I believe it is through the youth development and relationship lens that we see a child's full potential. How well we incorporate SEL into our educational system will depend on our own ability to value each touch point for a child as an equal partner. The Expanded Learning field remains committed to our collaborative relationship with core day educators, community partners, families and most importantly, to the students we serve. This is how we will discover the answers to our most pressing challenges and concerns about the future of our system and how best to provide support to all students under our care. We owe it to our students to all be in this together.

Tags: community building, connection, equity, family, relationships, SEL & Equity

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