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Social and Emotional Learning
Academic measures are often the primary reference when
schools are evaluated, so it’s fair to ask why we spend instructional time on social and emotional learning. Academic achievement occurs when students are engaged in learning, when they feel safe, when relationships with teachers and
peers are positive, and when they have some ability to regulate attention and emotions. Students who can label what
others are feeling, as well as what they themselves are feeling, are students who possess the skills needed to build and
to maintain satisfactory relationships with peers and teachers. There is compelling evidence that our ability to efficiently
and explicitly teach social and emotional competencies will impact a child’s academic achievement. Please visit the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) website for relevant research.
The Committee for Children (CFC) is a local non-profit agency that creates research-based social and emotional
learning materials. According to their website, they have taught children in 70 countries. Their main office happens
to be located in Seattle.
At John Stanford, teachers have access to two CFC programs:
- Second Step provides instruction in skills for learning, empathy, emotional regulation and problem solving in our kindergarten, our first, and our second grade classrooms.
- Steps to Respect is a bullying prevention program available to our fourth and fifth graders.
Our third graders participate in the Roots of Empathy program. Students in Roots of Empathy observe the relationship between a parent and a baby that visit the classroom monthly. Students learn to pay attention to the baby’s signals of emotions and intentions and they are prompted by the program to become more aware of their own emotional life and the thoughts and feelings of others. Research is accumulating regarding the effectiveness of the progam in raising social and emotional competence in children. The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington recently began a study of Roots of Empathy with results expected in late 2013. For more information visit the ROE website.
As we continue with our social and emotional learning efforts at John Stanford, students develop a language for
social problem solving that becomes a common language across our school community. Children learn to
recognize anger triggers and physical signs that they are angry. They learn to prevent escalation of angry feelings
into “action” by using strategies to restore a sense of calm, including taking slow deep breaths (e.g. “smell the
soup…cool the soup”), and using helpful self-talk (e.g.,"I will calm down"). As we work with students across the
grade levels, they learn to apply these skills when they recognize that they feel mad, sad or scared. They learn to "Recognize, Refuse, and Report" bullying.
Dan Turner is the school counselor for John Stanford and is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
He is a strong advocate for SEL and is dedicated to the success of our SEL program.