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.