We covered so much during our last webinar: SEL is Not a Program, it’s a Teachable Moment. Through the successes and challenges educators have shared with us, along with what we have observed in the schools we work in, we discuss how we can take what we have learned to help us finish out this school year and prepare us for the fall.
Here are our takeaways:
Young people are acting less mature than their chronological age.
Young people are acting about two years younger than their age; and we are seeing it in the increased conflicts they get into, aggression towards each other, or just struggling to keep their focus. Our advice is to meet them where they are; without talking down to them but recognizing the social structures they need now and then be ready and willing to modify our approach.
Teach boundaries to educators and parents.
While encouraging relationships between teachers, parents and students, we collectively overlooked that strong, trusting relationships depend on having and communicating healthy boundaries in these relationships. In our well intentioned efforts to bring relationships into the educational setting, one of the consequences is that educators are expected to be both a source of comfort and learning specialist for both child and the parent but also a person a parent can last out at if they are angry or anxious about their child’s experience at school. We must teach adults in a school how to define and communicate personal boundaries.
SEL does not always have to be done through explicit teaching.
Though Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs and curriculums give a strong foundational structure to teaching SEL based practices, they alone are not the only ways to teach SEL. SEL can be taught through implicit teachable moments. Moments where we are modeling and demonstrating to students how to react and respond to emotionally triggering situations. These moments can be through restorative conversations to help shift perspective and provide rationale, rather than demanding immediate change. Implicit teachable moments can be simple check-ins and morning meetings with students. SEL shouldn’t always feel like “one more thing,” but rather a “normal human thing” that demonstrates and teaches dignity.
So what do we do?
- We double down on our efforts to teach the influence of emotions on everyone, children and adults.
- We are explicit about adults’ behavioral expectations in a school
- We use the principle; no one knows everything, together we know a lot as the foundation for making co-created agreements with administrators, educators, faculty, parents, and students.
Further reading and Resources: