This fall, in addition to planning for the return to learning, schools are thinking more than ever about how to meet the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) needs of their students. Whether it’s because services this spring were interrupted, or because students experienced trauma and stress this spring leaving them more vulnerable than ever, SEL is at the top of many educator’s minds.
When considering how best to support SEL for students, a high-quality academic intervention to close learning gaps should be part of the solution. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) recommends that for SEL to be successful, it must be integrated into all aspects of schools, including academic interventions.
But, why? The right academic intervention not only supports student academic growth, but it also helps students develop two important SEL competencies: self-awareness and self-management.
The core competency of self-awareness includes recognizing one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. It encompasses accurately assessing one’s own strengths, limitations, and biases. Self-awareness also focuses on developing a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and growth mindset.
Helping students build confidence from the beginning of the new school year will be an important factor in their success throughout the year. Individualized interventions can play an enormous role in boosting confidence. Providing students with an individualized learning experience means their own assessment data is informing the activities they are working on. In other words, students are engaging with skills that are most relevant to them. In Classworks, for example, all learning is individualized for each student. They develop confidence almost immediately as they work at their own pace on the exact skills they are ready to learn.
This success multiplies on itself as learning gaps are closed, students continue to gain confidence, and ultimately begin to experience success in the classroom.
Teachers should have an easy way to document academic and behavioral growth for students including positive and negative behaviors. Within Classworks, teachers have a Student Observation section that includes an academic and behavior checklist and documentation area. Teachers use this to document positive and negative behaviors and any overall observations for their students. Multiple teachers are able to contribute to these reports, giving a well-rounded picture of how the student is doing throughout the day.
Remember that students are perceptive. They often know when they are working on instruction that varies from their peers. In the fall, it’s likely many students will be at different baselines and will be working on a variety of skills. Be open with students about the fact that although they are in the same grade in some classes they’ll be learning the same things as their peers and in others, they will work on lessons unique to them. This builds awareness that each student has unique needs and fosters empathy. It also removes the negativity they may feel towards working on something different from their friends.
A helpful practice is to establish enrichment/intervention periods where each student works on individual skills and introduce these classes as independent and individual learning times for all students. By including the time each day for students to work independently on learning specifically for them, they gain perspective that we can all be learning the same thing in one class and very different things in other classes.
Self-management includes regulating one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This involves managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward personal and academic goals.
Incorporate motivation and goal-setting into your academic intervention program to help students develop self-management. A student dashboard, like the My Scores dashboard in Classworks, gives students an at-a-glance view of their progress. Students can set weekly goals related to time and mastery. As they make progress towards goals they earn a variety of badges. Teaching students how to monitor their own progress, set goals, and make adjustments where needed gives them ownership and accountability. Students will feel more control over their learning – an important support when they feel out of control in other areas of their life. Teachers use student dashboards like Classworks My Scores to conference with students, recognize their incremental accomplishments, and celebrate them in front of their peers or parents.
Although having a digital dashboard for motivation and goal-setting is ideal, students also benefit from keeping a notebook for academic and personal goal-setting. Classworks students use our Student Success Notebook to set an academic goal each week and write strategies for how they will meet that goal. Personal goals are also tracked weekly. Additionally, students have a place to track their own progress, reflect on their efforts, and note if they accomplished their goal or not. Teachers have a section for their feedback and there is space to add rewards such as badges and stickers.
SEL is going to be especially important in the 2020-2021 school year. If you can successfully integrate the programs you use for core curriculum, closing gaps, and enrichment with the SEL initiatives in your school or district you increase the likelihood that students will embrace and apply these competencies at school and ultimately in life.
Classworks online tiered intervention is specifically developed to support student academic growth while also addressing SEL competencies. For more information about how to integrate Classworks into your SEL strategies, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out using the live-chat button on this page, and we will set up your personal consultation.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. – The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
Social and emotional skills are the tools both children and adults use in social interactions and to manage every day emotional responses. Things like social awareness, setting goals, and taking responsibility for oneself are imperative to maintaining healthy relationships and practicing self-care.