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the importance of social-emotional learning is discussed

Bolster Emotional Learning In and Out of the Classroom

Nov 01, 2019 2019-11-01

In the last few years, social and emotional learning (SEL) has increasingly become one of the most prevalent topics in education. Educators around the world are incorporating SEL into their classrooms and, according to the article “Reflecting on Social Emotional Learning: A Critical Perspective on Trends in the United States” by Dianne M. Hoffman, there are several benefits of teaching SEL that make it an important piece of the curriculum puzzle.

According to Hoffman, the term SEL generally refers to programs that attempt to enhance emotional intelligence and emotional literacy, as well as the development of what are perceived to be fundamental social­ and emotional skills and competencies. Research confirms there are links between SEL programs and improved outcomes in a variety of areas, such as teacher feelings of improved competence, improved student behavior, drops in discipline, and increases in academic achievement.

Researchers also believe that students will become better, happier citizens if they are taught SEL early in their educational careers. If incorporating SEL can have this significant of an impact on the campus culture, it seems possible that it could also affect the lives of young learners outside the classroom. Studies have shown that people with strong SEL skills lead to greater social, academic, and life success. However, if we want to see results come to fruition, it is crucial that SEL skills be introduced at the elementary and secondary levels.

As an educator, your primary focus is your students. You want to ensure that they are mentally and emotionally prepared for the future. While much of your curriculum is geared towards boosting their mental strength, it is equally important to incorporate lessons to bolster students’ emotional skills. Below are three strategies to begin incorporating SEL into your classroom.

1. Gaming
Gaming Concepts, from the High School Esports League (HSEL), has written a turnkey curriculum that almost anyone, even with rudimentary computer skills, can teach. The content covers learning standards in areas such as careers in gaming, maintenance of healthy practices, self-management, and interpersonal communications, as well as an overview of esports gaming and complete lesson plans. Microsoft recently introduced an hour-long online course for educators to help them learn more about esports and ways it can be used to teach college and career readiness, as well as social and emotional skills. The curriculum is openly available as a downloadable PDF file on the HSEL website.

2. Digital Tools
Another helpful resource comes from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s. They are offer free resources and digital tools to support the fight against the national literacy crisis. The “Be Your Best You” social and emotional learning collection focuses on the themes of confidence and empowerment. Through exercises and activities included in educator guides and parent resources, students learn critical skills tied to empathy, tolerance, conflict resolution, and mindfulness. Literacy Network, RIF’s central portal with tools and resources needed for community stakeholders to take action, has launched resources for back-to-school, including read-aloud guides, tips to create literacy centers in classrooms, literacy insights, webinars, best practice case studies, volunteer guides, and fundraising toolkits.

3. Professional Support
The Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning laboratory (EASEL) at Harvard University is testing the use of flexible, bite-sized lessons to teach social and emotional learning. The “kernels” are designed to be adaptable to students’ interests and needs. The EASEL team works with teachers and school staff, OST/after-school providers, families, mental health workers, and others in the community to support social–emotional development and a positive school climate. Additionally, the lab offers three types of professional development opportunities.

Research confirms there are links between SEL programs and improved outcomes in a variety of areas, such as teacher feelings of improved competence, improved student behavior, drops in discipline, and increases in academic achievement. Integrating gaming and digital tools, along with professional support, can help support these benefits while building individual emotional competencies.

Social-Emotional Learning

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