AN APPROACH TO SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Choosing a SEL approach began with a careful consideration of what we most wanted and needed as a school community. The needs that emerged from staff and parent focus groups and from the needs assessment surveys were mostly captured in three overarching themes.
- to help children and adults feel more deeply and consistently connected to their school community.
- strategies that minimize the disruption in learning that results from discipline problems and unkind behavior.
- to teach children skills to manage emotions, resolve conflict, and solve problems.
We also considered input from staff and parents that indicated a preference for approaches that focused on culture change rather than those that were stand-alone in nature.
Keeping these needs and preferences in mind, we narrowed down the 80+ SEL approaches that have been reviewed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
The five approaches we considered all had a professional development component, all were focused on strategies to improve communication and culture, and all contained some means of teaching social and emotional skills to children.
Among these options, a clear favorite emerged: "Responsive Classroom is a widely used, research-backed approach to elementary education that increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction."