June 1st, 2020

Social emotional needs has to be the foundation

When we say SEL we assume educators we are working with understand that we mean social emotional approach to implementing curriculum, but time and time again I have been proven wrong, that educators need to be educated. As a counselor its my automated internal response to approach any human with a social emotional development understanding. But educators that work in a district that doesn't model community building or relationship building nor model a needs based approach you will see SEL will not be implemented appropriately. We are people educating little people, everyone learns something from somewhere. Helping educators learn and internalize that relationship building approaches is SEL, that community building in their classroom is SEL. I have seen the lack of teachers be openminded to this approach and cause their students to tune out and literally walk out of the class and develop a "what's the point" attitude. They feel the teacher doesn't care. I thought with distance learning we might see a change with these teachers to approach more tenderly and personally but nope they were focused on just academics and get upset when SEL was mentioned. This misunderstanding of SEL and the need for it stems in how the district implemented and educated the teacher about SEL. We have to be needs based AND social emotional foundational based to really connect with students and meet them where they are to see true engagement and really see academic success. Being trauma informed is an SEL approach, to understand mental health is an SEL approach, to understand MTSS interventions and PBIS is SEL approach, to understand teachers need to collaborate with support staff is an SEL approach, to have enough counselors to hear out the students and provide guidance or school culture building is an SEL approach. Educators need to be better educate what SEL means and looks like without feeling like they are given an additional curriculum. In the words of restorative practice we need to work WITH each other, not for or against but together.

Tags: Climate and culture, community building, connection, definition, equity, Integrating SEL into academics, leadership, Mental health, relationships, restorative practices, SEL & Equity, SEL Leadership, student-centered, Trauma-informed practices

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Comments (2)

Comments (2)

Ruby ~ I've read through at least 20 responses, and yours is the first with a big picture perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so clearly and with such deep caring. Compartmentalization sucks the life and meaning out of education. Integration and big picture thinking turns everything around... and I think you know I'm not speaking in 'woo-woo' terms. When teachers look for and exercise even a little of the skills required for interdisciplinary thinking, enough so they're able to help students observe and appreciate connective principles that flow through seemingly separate areas of life and experience ... deep intellectual satisfaction is awakened. SEL can be seen as 100% relevant to this direction of academic endeavor. Are we talking paradigm shift? Probably. But no one needs to be intimidated by that term. There have been paradigm shifts throughout history, and of course there will continue to be. This, surely, is one of those times... and trying to solve today's challenges with the same disconnected set of tools that have been used for decades, clearly, is not sufficient to move us to the next level we all sense to be imminent.

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Mindset shifts and paradigm shifts take lots of hard work and takes time. Yes no one needs to be intimidated by it and learn to embrace it.

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