What is SEL?
Recent research shows that when schools actively address a child’s emotional and social needs by teaching, modeling & integrating principles of constructive conflict resolution, and infusing social emotional skill building into the daily curricula and classroom management, achievement scores improve.
Just as we would not expect children to become literate without teaching the necessary reading skills, Partners Inc. understands that we must also help children to learn how to relate to each other in a positive way by supporting their social-emotional literacy and the development of their problem solving abilities. This need is supported by the Department of Labor that cites “flexibility” and “the ability to get along with different types of people” as the two single most important factors for job success in the 21st century. Social and emotional competence shapes how children and adults interact with the world around them.
A growing body of research supports programs that are planned, ongoing, and systematic; programs that are monitored, improved, and refined over time. This is consistent with the research on improving academic performance that stresses the need for “whole school” reform. Guidelines for effective SEL programming in schools are:
- Grounded in theory and research
- Teaches children to apply SEL skills and ethical values in daily life situations
- Builds connection to school through caring, engaging classroom and school practices
- Provided developmentally and culturally appropriate instruction
- Helps schools coordinate and unify programs that are often fragmented
- Enhances school performance by addressing the affective and social dimensions of academic learning
- Involves families and communities as partners
- Establishes organizational supports and policies to foster long-term success
- Provides high-quality staff development and support
- Incorporates continuing evaluation and improvement
Partners Inc. recognizes the depth and complexity of public education’s mandate and the role education plays in the development of civic culture. It appreciates that there are no quick fixes to social and cultural problems that exist within schools, and as such commits to work with whole school communities for three to five years. In order to build a civic culture that strengthens relationships and supports the social and emotional well being of its students and staff, schools must have safe, respectful, and caring environments. This requires that schools include parents and other community stakeholders in their work in an integral way. Partners Inc. works to facilitate that inclusion.
Partners Inc. recognizes that every school has its own unique qualities and characteristics. We collaborate with each school community in the development of flexible, emergent modules that are designed to meet their unique needs. We invite teachers and administrators to think about the prevailing norms of teaching and learning in their schools, and actively seek out parents and community members who are willing to be a part of this process as well.
We encourage educators to become reflective practitioners who evaluate and adjust their practices, enabling them to strengthen their skills, and facilitate healthy student social-emotional development without giving up high standards or shortchanging students’ academic development. Reflecting upon and improving management structures, policies and practices, and home-school relationships, can significantly improve school climate and also produce greater cohesion and collegiality among the staff.
By making social and emotional learning an integral part of the curriculum for all learners, including school staff, schools can find a comprehensive and coordinated way to address the deeply intertwined academic, social and emotional needs of students and staff, speak to the near-overwhelming demands on teacher’s times and talents; and, make a meaningful contribution to the development of the school’s and the greater society’s civic culture.
The results are that test scores and student attendance tend to rise concomitantly while student suspension from school drops.
Through Partners Inc., we become long-term allies and coaches with schools, using collaboration as a channel for positive change. As with any long-term change that lasts, the issue is not ‘fidelity to model’, but balance, flexibility, continued resiliency and creativity, and training others to take over and “own” the process as their own.