Crisis- SEL is not an add on!

SEL, aka social emotional learning is critical to the development of young people and a future generation of policy makers, CEOs, scientists, …. that embrace sincerity, vulnerability, humility and confidence to lead this world out of the current implosion.

Schools Post 2022 need adjustments and the inclusion of programs and supports that connect to the whole child is essential now more than ever.  When reading the headlines with mental health challenges up and nearly 20% of adults in the US experience these challenges (source) and the overall state of happiness of children is down I wonder what we can do differently.

Of course there is the extreme of turning school buildings ‘inside out’ and invite learners to attend, access courses that interest them and engaging in projects of their own.  Instead of having time tables of have-tos we might have open spaces with experts available on hand to support, answer questions and prod thinking.  

If I were to start a school regardless of its model I would insist that social emotional learning opportunities are on hand and enticing for students to want to be part of the program.  Recently I have learned of two such programs that I would definitely recommend and incorporate to both middle and high school programs.

The first program, How Are You Feeling is truly compelling and ignites students’ wonderment and curiosity.  Using high interest movie and TV clips this curriculum demonstrates to learners what feelings look like, validates that they are part of life and everyone may experience these feelings in their life.  Because the clips are carefully curated students are shown ways people cope with them.  “When teens understand how their emotional system works, they develop a cognitive understanding of the personal power they possess to look after themselves well and take responsibility for their feelings. They also learn that all their feelings are okay and part of the human condition and they can learn to stop judging themselves and others for the feelings they have. They get that,’It’s okay to not be okay’ and this is really important in these trying times.”

The second program that I personally am more familar with and have been playing with as a teacher is through Legacy Mastery Academy.  This program gives teachers the tools, skills and content to deliver a carefully curated set of modules to help students learn about the essential executive skills that many successful people inhabit.  This curriculum includes 28 modules designed to build students’ confidence and understanding of themselves and their role in the world.  

The curriculum is designed to maximize teachers’ time and allow them to focus on delivering hands on lessons about topics that often would require a lot of planning and consideration.  Using this curriculum I have embarked with a team of students online to begin this journey and consider different ways of incorporating it into a school program.

Ultimately- in a school there were be dedicated time to social emotional learning and the entire teacher team would be part of delivering/facilitating the curriculum.  Ideally one would teach a group of student leaders and then they would teach their peers the content.  Overtime the school culture, the conversations and casual sharings would relate the topics discussed in the SEL class. 

Though SEL is not part of high school graduation requirements or college applications it may prove to  be one of the most invaluable courses students participate in to be successful, fulfilled and content in their future.  What do you think?  What resources have you used?

Published by marasimmons

A passionate educator turned world traveler embarking on a nomadic lifestyle with my family. Learning to appreciate a life where we have the privilege of choosing our destiny and embracing it.

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