Moderator Pick
May 30th, 2020

Social Emotional Learning Mandate

Let's be honest Social Emotional Learning is not new and we all know as educators it is what is needed and best for our students. It is a whole-child approach to education. SEL is a process where children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions in order to set and achieve goals, to feel and show empathy for others to establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

How can we expect our students to have this knowledge, attitude, or skills if many of our educators do not possess these same traits? We need to take a hard look at ourselves, staff, schools, and districts and ask the hard questions. Are we lacking these same skills? The answer is YES! However, being bound by time constraints, resources, and unions in order to do what needs to be done keeps us in this constant talking about what is best for our students instead of taking action toward what every student deserves. Every student deserves quality education.

Social and Emotional Learning is an essential part of a well rounded, quality education in all youth settings. I strongly feel that the only way to truly incorporate SEL in every school in California is to install some sort of Social Emotional Learning Mandate.

I would start at the beginning. All interviews of new staff would have at least one or two questions that have some sort of SEL concept in it. Each school year and all staff and new hires would be required to watch a video containing what is SEL, how to practice, SEL areas of competencies, etc. This would be like on the lines of the videos that are required for sexual harassment and mandated reporter. Next, I would require a certain amount of time or activity of SEL in each classroom daily much like the Patriotic Exercises and Instruction requirement (Article 2)(52720-52730). Then I would align all SEL and academic content. Embed SEL objectives in all subjects. Make learning interactive (even during distance learning) Led discussions, interactions, and teamwork. Elevating student voice-provide students with opportunities to be leaders, problem solvers, and decision-makers. All classrooms would teach it, make time for it, and possibly include curriculum. Then include professional development for all staff at least once a year that is SEL driven. Lastly, there would be some sort of outreach or education available for homes and communities.

We all know that Neurosciences show that emotion, attention, and learning are linked. That is not in question but in order to make this research come to life we must create a mandate for Social-Emotional Learning or where is the accountability that it would actually happen? The children of California deserve a quality education.

Tags: leadership, SEL & Remote learning, SEL Leadership, SEL Policy, student-centered

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Comments (7)

Comments (7)

"Are we lacking these same skills? The answer is YES! "

We need to ensure some level of SEL re-training for everyone involved with decisions on children education, learning, and education including parents.

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Making school accountable for incorporating SEL into their practices is a great idea, but I think it has to be done carefully so as not to make it just another box people can check off on a compliance report.

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I agree Susan, it can't just be another box for people to check off. However, I feel there has to be some sort of accountability to ensure that it is happening. I believe there are three main components that need to take place:
1. Positive Climates/True relationships
2.Behavioral expectations: They need to be set, consistent, and taught.
3.Accountability (Incentives): Systems/framework in place

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I couldn't agree more, Jodi, with this comprehensive approach to SEL, even extending to our hiring practices. Regarding mandates, I've been torn on that topic. I agree, in our current system of education, a mandate is likely what needs to happen in order to make SEL a priority. My only concern is that a mandate might result in "checking the box" and/or being measured by some sort of standardized test for SEL skills, which kind of flies in the face of the point of SEL in the first place. I'm not sure what the answer is....how do we make it a priority without defeating the purpose?

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Thank you Amy, I agree I don't like the idea of checking a box and hopefully it wouldn't turn into that but some sort of accountability needs to take place. Maybe instead of a mandate, there are just incentives for those schools or teachers that implement and make SEL a priority.

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I agree with you. One thing I would like to add having all staff members go out in the community they work in and get a better understanding of the families they serve. I have had homeless students living at hotels where they have people up all night yelling, selling, fighting and so on. Also, We don’t know the amount of stress Covid-19 has done on families, communities, and what the future looks like. My question is who is watching our students while parents are working in the fall? Most kids are home by themselves or with siblings. Start AskIng teachers how many students participated in school after March 16 and what have schools done to find the students they haven’t heard anything from. At the alt ed school I teach at students didn’t graduate or didn’t get credits if they didn’t participate during school closure. They only got credits for the first half if they were passing. I’m worried where is the student and why haven’t we heard from them.

Social emotional education for staff in education is important because if they are going to teach it then they need to understand it themselves.

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Shelly, I too have many students that experience the same situations that you mention above. It is truly heartbreaking and I myself have visited those same motels that many are living in as well. I keep data on all of my students that have or have not participated in school since March 16. I have approx. 515 students that I'm responsible for and their engagement, health, and safety are my main concern. I can only answer for myself but besides making personal phone calls to many families I also make home visits to those that I can't seem to reach. I agree with you that it is extremely important to get into the communities that we serve. We need to make this a priority and I feel that the best starting point is with Social Emotional Learning training for all staff and it needs to be required for all staff not optional. Maybe we should fund schools on educational goals instead of Prop 98 formula, which bases school funding on tax revenues and economic growth. We need to start investing in children! All cuts to children's programs need to be reversed. Every student deserves a quality education. SEL is an essential part of well-rounded quality education.

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