Aug 23, 2018 2018-08-23
Teachers of students with special needs know that Executive Functioning (EF) skills are critical to their students’ academic growth and success. Without the ability to organize, control impulses, and adapt to change students will struggle with both social and academic learning. Research indicates, however, that it is possible to explicitly teach these skills through a variety of techniques. Social–Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques and related Mindfulness activities can support student learning.
Social–emotional learning (SEL) is defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as the application of skills to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Mindfulness is in many ways a subcategory of social–emotional learning as its purpose is to reduce stress, aid in emotional regulation, and improve focus. When teachers use Mindfulness, they are addressing students’ social and emotional learning needs.
Many tools support both SEL and Mindfulness. Physical items to purchase include stress balls, texture bags, or doodle art targeted for calming experiences. Calming apps (some of which have a nominal fee) are available for both iOS and Android devices. Online resources are plentiful as well, including interactive websites, TED Talks; professional learning, and research articles. The Center for Teaching the Whole Child and Navigating SEL offers ideas for classroom and schoolwide projects that focus on creating supportive schools.