Moderator Pick
May 18th, 2020

Opportunity for Flexibility and Student voice

I agree with the comments previously stated: SEL framework, Relationships as the Key, Parent Involvement, Coordination by Districts, and Student Voice as necessary.

As my lens is from the high school view, I am always trying to think of tangibles that would reduce the stress and overwhelmed feeling students have, not just the curriculum that would help them.

I have thought about allowing students to have more time to complete their units so they can work, or take care of sick family members. When schools are "docked" not graduating students in four years, the stress that has on the staff and students is tremendous. What if high school students could take as few as 20 credits for most semesters, graduate in 5 years instead of four?

If students had access to a SEL class, or even better, where they earn credits by attending office hours with teachers where they could build relationships one-on-one, as a way to embed the supports with in the day.

And to strengthen communication between the parents/guardians of the students and the school, ensure that there was a Parent Engagement Coordinator at every site. The PEC would help to facilitate communication with families around access to technology, hot spots, food, and be an avenue of communication with teachers and counselors, and conduct home visits.

While the COST system is a good system for identifying students who have additional needs, the outside providers usually require Medical. Can we change that system?

Lastly, create an evaluation tool where administrators can identify and "evaluate" teachers on their ability to build relationships with students. I know this is controversial and subjective, but we need a way to strengthen the teacher understanding that right now (and always) the interaction with teachers and students matter-teachers are the front line essential workers whose access and relationship with students will matter more than any policy that is put into place.

Tags: community building, equity, Integrating SEL into academics, relationships

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Comments (8)

Comments (8)

Hi Amy -- I think you raise a key insight here when you suggest offering students credits for SEL class or office hour attendance.

How do students (high school students in particular) view SEL? We as educators, researchers, we as adults, understand the importance and benefits of SEL competencies and curriculum in helping us live a healthy and meaningful life, but how do we communicate a value proposition, a "why," in our students' vernacular that resonates so profoundly with them that they actually want to go to SEL class or office hours without having to get credit for it?

My sense based on the conversations I've had with high school students is that there's a fundamental disconnect in how important we view SEL and how important they view it.

An educator once told me, "Part of being a great teacher is really knowing how to sell whatever it is you're teaching and it always comes back to the why. Not your why. Your students' why."

Just my quick thoughts here on an open brainstorm. I love how you think about the tangible ways of reducing stress. There are a lot of amazing ideas here. I'd love to know from your experience what are some of the most effective initiatives or stress tweaks you / your schools have made to improve school climate?

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Comment deleted by user.

Amy,
I actually like your controversial idea of administrators being able to discuss with teachers how well they are doing in building relationships with students (and I'm a teacher!). Of course, the word "evaluate" can be a trigger for some teachers when it comes to their administrators- but how amazing if this was like a "wellness evaluation"? It could be a time for admin to go over not only the SEL skills of the students in his/her classroom, but primarily the teacher's SEL skills and what affect that could be having on the classroom. This would be a time for the teacher to reflect on what he/she is working on personally and how admin could support him/her in this pursuit. I think sometimes what gets lost in the discussion of SEL for students is not just how teacher SEL skills can be improved, but the crucial role administrators' SEL skills play in the school dynamic. By bringing them in as a partner to supporting teacher SEL goals would be a positive step forward!

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I completely agree! As the teacher is the first contact for students, teachers need skills and support and the ability to have structure and flexibility for students through this time. Having a check in would allow for the admin to know the individual needs of each teacher in reaching students. It does not need to be evaluative but there needs to be an expectation that every teacher will receive a check in, minimally each semester.

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Hope that we can take this crisis as opportunity to shift educational systems to integrate some of these ideas that address issues of equity through the lens of relationship. Love to hear about centering parent involvement at a high school level!

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Hi Amy:

Interesting ideas here. What are the barriers to these innovations? What ideas do you have for overcoming those?

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Comment deleted by user.

In response to Overcoming Potential Barriers:
Since it is subjective - perhaps teachers and administrators work together to establish the criteria that will be used to assess the quality of the Teacher-Student Relationship aspect. Teachers need to be part of the process and have input as to how this will be implemented and used

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