Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

SEL Basics

1

Nov

It’s About Skill Development!

by Ed DeRoche, Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego

A “skills” quote:

“Expressing care for another is not an innate ability present more naturally in some people than others, but rather a skill that can be taught and nurtured through a supportive educational environment.”

-Scotty McLennan, Dean for Religious Life, Stanford University

A “skills” memory:

”I loved playing baseball. Our city had open try-outs for minor league teams. On day four, one of the coaches said to me, ‘Son, we can’t have players on this team without skills in every area.’ I had ‘grit’ but couldn’t hit. I also had ‘perseverance’ so I became a teacher, a principal, a dean.”

(The question of how skillfully is open to debate.)

At our Character Matters Conference (June 2017), sitting with a few teachers over our delicious box lunches, we started talking about “21st Century Skills” and the “new” character education movement – the focus on the social-emotional needs of students. I expressed the opinion that I thought the programmatic/instructional emphasis was on the emotional side of the SEL (follow the money) with some, but not too much, attention helping students develop their “social skills.”

As I noted in my 2013 blog , “The Skills Game” recent employee surveys showed that employers are looking for certain qualities in employees such as listening and communication skills, adaptability, creative thinking skills, problem-solving skills, goal setting skills, and competence in reading, writing, and computation skills. It has been reported that 85% of those who lose jobs do so because of inadequate social skills.

It seems to me that social skill development should be an essential part of schools’ character education initiatives (with character strengths and emotional skills as the other two).

A survey conducted through Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, asked the question: What are the best skills for kids to have these days?

The responses:

90% – Communication

86% – Reading

79% – Math

77% – Teamwork

75% -Writing

74% – Logic

58% -Science

25% – Athletics

24% – Music

23% -Art

Social skills include habits and attributes that some call “Habits of the Heart.” This includes providing instruction and practice in helping students to be respectful, be responsible, be honest, be trustworthy, be caring, be courageous, be courtesy, be compassionate, and be fair.

These learned skills are coupled with “Habits of the Mind” – being a critical thinker, appreciating the importance of knowledge and learning, learning how to learn, practicing self-discipline, making ethical decisions, learning to problem solve, controlling anger and emotions, resisting peer pressure, and thinking before acting.

The third skill set is often labeled, “Habits of the Hands,” which includes knowing and practicing the Golden Rule, being of service to others, and becoming an active, participating citizen.

In my research for this blog, I found a program developed by Stephen Elliott (Vanderbilt Peabody education and psychology researcher) and co-authored with Frank Gresham, of the newly published The Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP).

They identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country. The skills are:

  • Listen to others.
  • Follow the steps.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Ignore distractions.
  • Ask for help.
  • Take turns when you talk.
  • Get along with others.
  • Stay calm with others.
  • Be responsible for your behavior.
  • Do nice things for others.

They report: “In our research, we found that elementary kids and teachers value cooperation and self-control. When we teach and increase those behaviors, we reduce problem behaviors and maximize learning time…. “

“If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning.”

More information about the SSIS Program can be found at: http://www.PearsonAssessments.com.

Another discovery – a web site, called SKILLSYOUNEED (https://skillsyouneed.com), which provides information and resources for each of the following category of skills: Personal, Interpersonal, Leadership, Learning, Presentation, Writing, Numeracy, and Parenting skills.

As a reminder, I published two blogs on this topic that may be worth your review:

  1. “The Skills Game: Who’s on First? What’s on Second? How’s on Third!” [Published by SmartBrief-Education, 11/12/2013]
  1. “The Skills of Question-Asking,” [February 2015 Blog]

http://sites.sandiego.edu/character/blog/2015/02/23

And finally, think about this each month during the new school year:

Children who scored high on social skills were four times as likely to graduate from college than those who scored low.”

Teaching Social Skills to Improve Grade and Lives, David Bornstein, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/24

Question/Comments: deroche@sandiego.edu

25

Oct

Bully

Teachers Can Impact Bullying More Than They Realize

Summary:  This article reports on programs that can help stop bullying and the role that SEL can play in creating safe spaces for students. The role that teachers can play in stopping bullying is also outlined in this article.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, October 24, 2017

Categories:  Anti-bullying, Positive Relationships, Classroom Practices, SEL Basics

11

Oct

Survey

No State Will Measure Social-Emotional Learning Under ESSA. Will That Slow Its Momentum?

Summary:  In a review of state ESSA plans, no state has included measures of Social-Emotional Learning as an indicator.  The article suggests that measures of SEL are not sufficiently developed to be used across all schools. Roger Weissberg of CASEL, said “a group of 20 states that are cooperating to explore social-emotional-learning plans largely favor allowing districts to select and design their own measures to ensure they fit into their strategies.”

Source:  Evie Blad, Education Week, October 4, 2017

Categories:  Student Achievement, SEL Basics, SEL Research, Assessment Tools

11

Oct

Social-Emotional Learning Can Begin on the Bus Ride

Summary: This article reports on a project at Butler University where bus drivers were trained on how to form positive relationships with students during their rides to and from school and how to teach them ways to cope with stressful situations at home or during the school day.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, October 10, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Emotional Intelligence, School Culture/Climate, Positive Relationships

1

Oct

Opt for Dignity: Teach Children to Value Themselves and Others

Summary:  This article contains a podcast where Tim Shriver, chair of CASEL and of the Special Olympics,  shares information about his life and about the importance of Social-Emotional Learning.

Source:  Tom VanderArk, Education Week, September 27, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Character Education, Emotional Intelligence

1

Oct

Measurement

Measuring Social-Emotional Skills: Designs Show Current State of Assessment

Summary:  This article reports on the results of CASEL’s design challenge for measuring social-emotional skills.  Methods ranged from puzzle-solving, to organizational skills, to reactions of high school students to videos.  CASEL’s work groups has determined that more work is needed to create measurement systems that would be able to be implemented on a large-scale basis.

Source:  Linda Jacobson, Education DIVE, September 27, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research

22

Sep

Happy students

‘Kindness Curriculum’ Shown to Improve Grades and Relationship Skills

Summary:  This article reports on the success of the “Kindness Curriculum” in a pilot study with pre-K classrooms in Madison, Wisconsin.  While the study was relatively small, the researchers felt that the positive results warrant further studies to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum with a larger sample size and over the long term.

Source:  Brenda Iasevoli, Education Week, September 20, 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Empathy, Emotional Intelligence, SEL Basics

22

Sep

Compassion as a Classroom Management Tool

Summary:  This article shares the reflections of a second-year teacher on her change of heart in how she managed her classroom.  Instead of using an approach characterized by strict rules enforcement, she adopted an approach based on compassion and caring for her students.

Source:  Andrea Marshbank, Edutopia, September 19, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Emotional Intelligence, Positive Relationships, Classroom Practice

22

Sep

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for an Emergency — and How Can SEL Help?

Summary: This article touches on how schools prepare for crisis situations and how to build resilience to deal with trauma before, during, and after an emergency incident occurs.  The author contends that SEL and building relationships is an important step in the process.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education Dive, September 18, 2017

Categories:  School Safety, School Culture/Climate, School Health, Mental Health, SEL Basics, Positive Relationships

18

Sep

Preschoolers

The Evidence Base for Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Summary:  This link to the Aspen Institute provides insights and materials which provide evidence for the importance of Social-Emotional Learning in how students learn.  There are links to a streamed recording of the research symposium as well as a link to the research brief produced by the Aspen Institute.

Source: Jacqueline Jodl, Director, National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, The Aspen Institute, September 15, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement, Character Education