Social and Emotional Learning

Ed Talk: SEL

Another edition of Ed Talk took place on Saturday, August 31, 2019, as educators, community leaders, and students came together to learn techniques to improve their social and emotional skills. Participants learned how to encourage and motivate others while sustaining their mental stability. In an era where educational emphases seem to focus solely on how well students perform on a standardized test, Ed Talk embraces a unique curriculum model (SEL) that focuses on developing a students’ social and emotional success. Ed Talk focuses on preparing students to succeed in the 21st century by removing social and psychological barriers that are often roadblocks to academic and social success.

Why Do We Need SEL in K-12 Classrooms?

As described by certified counselors Ms. Danielle Cole and Mrs. Jade Jones, social and emotional learning helps students to identify, manage, and cope with their emotions, thus leading to students who can sustain mental stability. Read as they share their professional opinions on how they implement social and emotional learning into their counseling sessions and why it should be taught in K-12 classrooms. 

Ms. Danielle Cole, M.S. 

How can social and emotional learning help kids cope with feelings and set goals?

I believe SEL helps kids learn not only to identify their feelings but to manage and cope with them in appropriate ways. Often, kids think it’s not okay to feel or express emotions. This may be because they’ve been teased about it or if they are in an environment where they are not allowed to show what they feel. When exposed to SEL, kids learn that all feelings are okay, and there are appropriate ways to express how they feel. SEL allows students to build self-confidence, thus encouraging students to set goals and believe they are capable of achieving those goals. As adults in helping professions, it is our role to model and be an example of how to form positive relationships with kids, while showing them that we see their potential to achieve greatness.

What are the short and long term benefits you have seen in students who have experienced SEL? 

Short and long term benefits I’ve seen include noticing a difference in the way kids carry themselves. Students who participate in SEL activities gain more self-confidence. They have more positive social interactions and a decrease in aggressive behaviors. They begin to think before they act as a result of learning how to self-regulate. Kids develop more meaningful relationships and realize they need to have positive social-emotional connections with others to achieve overall success. Often, the kids we work with have experienced some level of trauma, and it takes time for them to trust the adults they see daily. It is imperative we teach kids how to problem solve and cope with things that happen in their lives, regulate their emotions, and have empathy for others. This comes from creating safe spaces and building positive relationships with all students. 

Mrs. Jade Jones, M.S.

How have you used SEL in your counseling session to improve students’ attitudes and behaviors?

SEL focuses on growing student responsibility. As I help students navigate through their situations, I remain supportive as I encourage positive pro-social behavior. The student and I work together to use their strengths to be successful in the classroom and in their community by teaching them techniques that will support positive decision-making skills. Using SEL activities, we work together to create academic and behavior plans that will support their behavioral growth. Once we have identified their goals, we establish an action plan as well as techniques that can be used to help them achieve their goals. 

What approach or techniques do you use to apply SEL when teaching students?

Model, model, model! I try to use a language and behavior that is warm, encouraging, and supportive. Working with youth, we must become self- aware of the importance of our word choice, the tone of voice, as well as our body language. All can quickly alter an atmosphere into a positive or negative one, which will either build a relationship or destroy one.

Below are tips that can be shared to help implement SEL at home. 

SEL Tips for Parents:

  1. Demonstrate Supportive Behavior – form a relationship with your child’s teacher, administrator, and counselor. Forming relationships with teachers, counselors and administration is vital to student success. Effective relationships between parents, teachers, counselors and administration significantly improves students long term success in K-12 classrooms. Positive and effective relationships between parents and school faculty helps students to prosper while developing academic, social, and emotional skills that are needed for higher levels of prosocial behaviors and academic success. 
  2. Self Care – in order to build mental stability, students must understand how to cope with their feelings. They must also understand the importance of healthy eating and exercising habits. Healthy eating and exercising habits help to stabilize energy, their moods, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Read more about nutrition facts here
  3. Build Healthy Habits – enforce a routine that supports students mental and physical success. Using the tips below will help to create a routine that will promote physical and mental stability. 
  • Understand symptoms of mental health problems. Find more information here  on how to identify symptoms.
  • Promote social and emotional competency to build resilience. Find more information here  on how to identify ways to build resilience in your child.
  • Encourage physical health activities such as walking/running outside, gardening, eating healthy snacks outside, building a birdhouse, join a local nature group such as girl or boy scout and scavenger hunt. Find more ideas here
  • Teach and reinforce self confidence. A daily tool to use is self affirmations. Self affirmations start with I will and I can and end with a positive word or statement. Self affirmations help to build students confidence as they focus on their attitude and character. Find more about self affirmations here.

Published by The Educational Dreamer

The EdD Series and The Educational Dreamer is dedicated to changing the educational experiences of students.

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