Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

SEL Basics

2

Jun

Happy students

THE HARD PART ABOUT SOFT SKILLS

THE “HARD” PART ABOUT “SOFT SKILLS”

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

“Hard skills” are often thought of as the occupational skills necessary to complete the tangible elements of a job….”Soft skills” can be seen as the behavioral ways in which people go about their occupational tasks. Leadership requires a sophisticated approach to both.    Brian Evje, Inc., Nov. 8, 2012

Those of you who read my monthly blogs know that I am enthusiastic about teaching students social skills, emotional skills, thinking skills, and positive character traits.

Over the past few years, business people have been talking and writing about the skill development of employees focusing on the need for developing their “soft skills.” I read that CEOs are starting to talk about wanting employees who are trustworthy, empathetic, adaptable, who can manage their emotions (self control), and have the skills to be better decision-makers. It has been reported that 85 percent of those who lose jobs do so because of inadequate social skills, and that children who scored high on social skills were four times as likely to graduate from college than those who scored low.

In early April, Phil Blair, co-founder of Manpower San Diego, wrote an advice column in the Business Section of the San Diego Union Tribune (4-9-18) titled “Turning Your Soft Skills Into Your Strongest Talents.” Blair noted that business executives reported that among the “technical” talents employees bring to their work and the workplace, there is a need for employees to learn and demonstrate “soft skills” – behavioral attributes such as “adaptability, cultural competence, empathy, intellectual curiosity and 360-degree thinking.”

The Graduate School at the University of Cincinnati compiled a list of the 10 top soft skills that employers seek (with definitions not included here).

  1. Leadership
  2. Teamwork
  3. Problem Solving
  4. Flexibility
  5. Creativity
  6. Commitment
  7. Communication
  8. Motivation/Initiative
  9. Dependability/Reliability
  10. Time Management

https://grad.uc.edu/student-life/news/soft-skills.html

In addition, there have been numerous discussions about students and employees learning and using “21st century skills.” There are an abundance of skill lists. A couple of examples will give you the “skill picture” of the future.

One group’s list includes:

  • Ways of Thinking (creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and learning)
  • Ways of Working (communication and collaboration)
  • Tools for Working (information and communications technology, and information literacy)
  • Skills for Living (citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility)

According to this group’s team managers, the two skills that cut across all four categories are “collaborative problem solving” and “learning in digital networks.”

The Thoughtful Learning Group notes that 21st century learning skills are captured in the 4 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating.

Critical thinking is focused, careful analysis of something to better understand it.

Creative thinking is expansive, open-ended invention and discovery of possibilities.

Communicating involves a range of skills such as analyzing, evaluating, reading, speaking, writing, etc.

Collaborative skills require one to be engaged in team building, resolving conflict, managing time, etc.

This May blog offers the what and why but says little about how. I will leave that to you and your colleagues. I think it is fair to say that “hard skills” (STEM) gives one the occupational/technical skills to make a living (smart) and the “soft skills” (character education) helps one make that living worthwhile (good).

The 80/20 Rule: It was established back in 1918 by Mann’s study on engineering education that approximately 80 percent of success is due to soft skills while 20 percent is due to hard skills.  –  National Soft Skills Association, August 3, 2017

24

Apr

The Principal: Character, Collaboration, Commitment

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

This blog was written as a direct result of reading David Brooks’s column, “Good Leaders Make Good Schools which I will summarize below. The column topic reminded me of previous notes and publications that I wrote about school leadership.

For example, several years ago, I published an article in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development (September 2000, Vol. 39, Issue 1) titled, “Leadership for Character Education Programs.” I suggested school principals and program leaders should be visionaries, missionaries, consensus builders, knowledge sources, standard bearers, architects, role models, communicators, collaborators, resource providers, and evaluators. For each responsibility, I offered commentary about the “what and why.”

Elsewhere, I wrote described two views about character and leadership.

One was that of Zenger and Folkman (The Extraordinary Leader) who made a clear case that “Character is the center pole, the core of leadership effectiveness.”

The other was a summary of the Turknett Leadership Group’s “Leadership Character Model.” Their view is that “Leadership is about character – who you are not, what you do.” Their model includes three core qualities as the keys of leadership character:

  1. Integrity [honesty, credibility, trustworthy];
  2. Respect (empathy, lack of blame, motivational mastery, humility); and
  3. Responsibility (self-confidence, accountability, focus on the whole, courage).

(www.turknett.com)

Current research about school principals is exciting and informative. The Knowledge Center at www.wallacefoundation.org contains more than 70 publications about school leadership. In my readings of a few of the reports, I found evidence that effective principals establish leadership teams, led by the principal, assistant principals, and teacher leaders. Team members shared responsibility for student progress.

Another discovery (at least for me) was that effective principals encourage collaboration “paying special attention to how school time is allocated.” Another study reported that, coupled with collaboration, “principals who rated highly for the strength of their actions (commitment) to improve instruction were also more apt to encourage the staff to work collaboratively.” Note this important finding, “When principals and teachers share leadership, teachers’ working relationships with one another are stronger and student achievement is higher.”

Now, all of this information is what I call “in-house stuff.” My point—the public knows little about these significant findings.

Thus, it is left to journalists and the media to bring this important information to the public, especially parents, board members, and community leaders. David Brooks did this in his column, “Good Leaders Make Good Schools” (NYT, 3-12, 2018).

In brief, here is what he wrote.

     If you want to learn how to improve city schools, look how Washington D.C.,

     New Orleans, and Chicago are already doing it.

     Restructuring schools and increasing teacher quality don’t get you very far without a strong principal.

How do they do this he asks? His answer, “They build a culture…set by their behavior (character).”  

He also notes that “it takes five to seven years for a principal to have full impact on a school….When you learn about successful principals, you keep coming back to character traits they embody and spread: energy, trustworthiness, honesty, optimism, determination, and promotes a collaborative power structure.”

In bold type he writes a key finding from researchers who studied principals in 180 schools across nine states and concluded, “We have not found a single case of a school improving its student achievement record in absence of talented leadership.”

Brooks concludes, “We went through a period when we believed you could change institutions without first changing the character of the people in them. But we were wrong. Social transformation follows personal transformation.”

The question for current school principals posed by Baruti K. Kafele, an award-winning former urban principal in New Jersey: “Is my school a better school because I lead it?”

His answer:

“It’s my strong belief that to lead your school forward, you must consider this question daily. To answer this question affirmatively, you must be absolutely clear about who you are as the school leader, what your mission is, what purpose drives your work, and how you envision the future of your leadership and school. These characteristics determine who you are, what you’re about, why you’re about it, and where you are going. They serve as a mirror for why you do this work in the first place. You must lead your school with the confidence to say, ‘Yes, my school is, in fact, a better school because I lead it.’ And when you do, students win.”

https://www.sandiego.edu/soles/character-education-resource-center/

Edward DeRoche, Ph.D.

Character Education Resource Center, Director

deroche@sandiego.edu

University of San Diego

5998 Alcala Park

San Diego, CA 92110

7

Jan

Buying on line.

Tweens/Teens and Technology: What You Need to Know What You Need to Do

by Michelle McCoy Barrett, Ph.D., College of Saint Elizabeth, Associate Professor and Director, Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology, Licensed Psychologist

Technology has made our lives easier, more efficient, and even more enjoyable. Socially, a new world has opened up allowing many to connect in ways that are no longer dependent on proximity. With all of these benefits, there comes a growing number of concerns, particularly for tweens/teens of Generation Z, the “Always on Generation” (born 2001-present).

Lack of Connection and Relatedness

Communication, although more frequent, can lack genuine meaning and connection when done primarily through text or social media outlets. Today’s tweens/tees may be less equipped to understand social cues and may hide behind technology to avoid genuine and meaningful interactions. Texting as a primary mode of communication lacks face-to-face interaction. How often are text messages misinterpreted because of a lack of eye-contact, tone of voice, and body language?

Can’t unplug or Disconnect

Many parents and educators worry about the amount of time tweens/teens spend online and on their phones. Some of the strongest research suggests that our sleep is being affected by technology, specifically cell phone use at nighttime. Phone notifications being on at night affects our sleep and this is especially problematic for tweens/teens. Concerns exist about attention spans, multi-screening, and the constant need to find out what others are doing, known as “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO).

Consequences of Bad Decisions

Perhaps the most frightening concern has to do with the consequences of what kids put out there (e.g., hurtful words, inappropriate images). Emotional regulation and impulse control take on new meaning when one considers how quickly and widely messages can be broadcast. Developmentally, this age group struggles with things like planning, thinking ahead, and making good decisions. It can be a disastrous combination for this group to have instant access to an audience. In addition, there is often the false belief that once something is deleted, it disappears. Teens/tweens need to know that once something is out there, it stays out there!

Today’s parents have an additional job as soon as they allow their kids to enter the world of technology/social media. Often the issue of privacy is raised, however it’s crucial remember that what tweens/teens are doing online is PUBLIC. A diary is private, while a text or post is public. The time to set up monitoring is sooner rather than later, as it’s easier to set up rules with a 12-year-old versus a 16-year-old.

Social Emotional Learning

Given what today’s tweens/teens are facing, there is an increased need to focus on social and emotional learning in schools and at home. Developing an awareness of one’s own emotional state is crucial for healthy development and building relationships. This awareness also serves as the building blocks for understanding other people’s emotional states. With a decrease in face to face communication and an increase in electronic communication, there are fewer opportunities to develop that understanding of others and more room to make errors. Because texting has become the primary mode of communication for tweens/teens that have a phone, this generation may be lacking in social awareness and understanding and the need for these skills to be intentionally discussed and taught is tremendous.

Suggestions

  1. Charge phones at night in a charging station, not in a tween/teens’ bedroom.
  2. Model unplugging as parents.
  3. Be familiar with the types of technology that your kids use.
  4. Know passwords and monitor communications. Start off with this understanding.
  5. Discuss what you see. Mistakes will happen and can be important conversations; the key is to catch these early.

References

Weiss, R., Schneider, J. (2014). Closer together, further apart: The effect of technology and the internet on parenting, work, and relationships. Gentle Path Press: Arizona.

Weir, K., (2017). Disconnected. Monitor on Psychology, Vol 48, No. 3, APA: Washington DC.

 

30

Nov

Ajudando os Alunos a Identificar os seus Valores (Spanish)

This Article is the translation, with the kind permission of the author, Maurice J. Elias, of the post Helping your Students Identify Their Values that has been published in Edutopia, the third July 2017. Due to its extension, it will be published in three parts.

Este artigo é a tradução, amavelmente autorizada pelo autor, Maurice J. Elias, do artigo publicado em Edutopia a 3 de Julho de 2017. Devido à sua extensão, será publicado em 3 partes.

Convide os seus alunos a escrever sobre os princípios orientadores segundo os quais eles querem viver, usando estes tópicos motivadores para os ajudar a começar.

By Maurice J. Elias

O início do ano escolar é uma ocasião propícia para pedir aos alunos que reflitam sobre aquilo que traz um sentido orientador às suas vidas. E colocar por escrito os seus princípios orientadores de vida é uma tarefa perfeita para esta reflexão.

Os professores de alunos a partir do 5º ano podem pedir-lhes que descrevam os princípios segundo os quais desejam viver as suas vidas. Para os ajudar a sintonizar a ideia, podem conversar sobre biografias que eles tenham lido ou visto em filmes (Também podem ver juntos extratos de vídeos ou lerem juntos excertos de livros); depois organizem um diálogo ou enumerem um resumo das regras pelas quais essas pessoas parecem ter pautado as suas vidas. Também podem colocar aos alunos a mesma questão sobre personagens de romances, adultos presentes nas suas vidas ou figuras históricas.

Para Começar:

Algumas questões motivadoras podem ajudar os alunos a começar a pensar mais profundamente sobre os seus próprios valores ou princípios.

  • Quem admiras? Enumera três qualidades admiráveis dessa pessoa.
  • Descreve um incidente ou um evento em que tenhas aprendido uma lição da forma mais dura.
  • O que poderias mudar em ti próprio para te tornares uma pessoa melhor?
  • Quais são as três qualidades que valorizas num amigo? Num Professor? No Pai ou na Mãe?
  • Quem foi mais importante na tua vida em ajudar-te a estabelecer os teus valores? Por favor explica.
  • Quais são os três valores mais importantes que pensas serem essenciais para encorajar os teus próprios filhos, um dia mais tarde?
  • Qual é a regra única que tu crês ser a essencial para orientar a tua vida?
  • Se nós vivêssemos num mundo perfeito, como é que as pessoas poderiam proceder de forma diferente do que fazem agora?

(Continua)

Sobre o Autor: Maurice J. EliasProf. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (www.secdlab.org), Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu)@SELinSchools

LINK…

http://cadescrita.edublogs.org/2017/07/08/ajudando-os-alunos-a-identificar-os-seus-valores-i/

1

Nov

Practice Learning Knowledge

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