Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Student Achievement

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

10

Sep

Student CIrcle

Students Learn Leadership, Soft Skills with Genius Hours

Summary:  This article talks about the use of “Genius Hours” as a way to personalize learning and develop a sense of community in the classroom.  Students have the opportunity to come up with creative questions and then answer that question through project-based learning.

Source:  Amelia Harper, Education DIVE, September 6, 2017

Categories:  Student-Centered Learning, Classroom Practice, Student Achievement, School Culture/Climate

25

Aug

Integrating SEL with ELA, Math, and Social Studies: 5 New Resources

Summary: In partnership with educational leaders in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania participating in the “Collaborating States Initiative”, CASEL has published five new resources to guide state leaders and educators in integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) with classroom instruction.

Source:  CASEL (www.casel.org) August 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, SEL Teacher Training, Classroom Practice, Student Achievement

24

Aug

Improving Your Parent-Outreach Strategy

Summary:  This article provides suggestions and strategies for communicating with parents.  Most of these communication methods use technology and cellphone apps, classroom blogs, and websites to keep parents in the loop, reduce your workload, and boost student engagement.

Source:  Jeff Knutson, Edutopia, August 23, 2017

Categories:  Parent Engagement, Technology, Positive Relationships, Student Achievement

22

Aug

Promoting Student Independence & Successful Inclusion through Systematic Use and Fading of Supports

By Amy Golden, Behavior Therapy Associates (www.BehaviorTherapyAssociates.com)

 

Being able to be as independent as possible often substantially impacts future success in all aspects of life (Causton-Theoharis, 2009; Hume, Loftin, & Lantz, 2009). Therefore, as a student moves through adolescence, it is essential for the educational team and family to place increasing emphasis on promoting student independence. This should be carefully considered when developing the individualized educational plan (IEP) for the student.

IEPs often focus on short-term goals and objectives projected for the year ahead, with supports and services to help the student achieve those skills. However, it is suggested that the IEP should be developed as a plan emphasizing independence, with long-term goals always on the forefront of the discussion. With this framework in mind, the team should focus on supports the student needs now to ultimately require less intrusive supports in the future. Goals for independent functional skills should be included in addition to those that are academically oriented. A variety of accommodations and modifications should center on promoting both student progress and independence (Asher, Gordon, Selbst & Cooperberg, 2010; Twachtman-Cullen, 2000). Areas of independence may include behaviors such as initiating tasks, transitioning between activities or locations, organizing materials, caring for one’s own daily needs, and more.

Paraprofessionals are routinely assigned to support students with autism spectrum disorders in the school environment (Giangreco, Halvorsen, Doyle, & Broer, 2004).  There are many clear advantages and disadvantages to this approach.  Paraprofessionals often provide the assistance students require to access less restrictive settings.  Some of their responsibilities may include taking the lead for implementing behavior plans, gathering important information about the student’s skills and deficits, promoting social interactions with peers, and collecting data (Twachtman-Cullen, 2000).  

A key advantage of the use of paraprofessional supports includes the ability to promote generalization for the student across environments. Having detailed knowledge of the student’s abilities and challenges allows them to plan ahead as well as prepare to assist the student in new situations and settings. While these are all reasonable tasks and often necessary benefits, providing 1:1 adult assistance can also be considered most restrictive and significantly impact the student’s autonomy. Peers may be less likely to approach and interact with the student due to an adult’s presence (Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland, 1997). The student may engage in spontaneous conversation more readily with the adult, creating an unnatural division from the student’s classmates. The potential for prompt dependency is also heightened when an adult is always present (Causton-Theoharis, 2009). Best intentions to provide support for the individual may result in too much being done for the student or the use of intrusive prompts without a careful fading plan.

Therefore, prior to establishing the need for 1:1 staffing, a thorough assessment of the specific areas for support should be completed. Teams should convene to determine what they anticipate achieving by using 1:1 supports and review if these needs can be met more effectively in other ways to promote student independence (Causton-Theoharis, 2009). For example, students may benefit from using communication devices, technology, additional visual cues, peer modeling, and environmental adaptations. Additionally, providing teachers and paraprofessionals with more advanced training can encourage the use of alternative and creative ways to assist the student (Stockall, 2014; Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland, 1997). Instructing staff on the principles of applied behavior analysis, such as content included in the training for Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), can improve upon educators’ utilization of effective prompting and fading strategies (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2013).

Once 1:1 support is in place for a student, collecting data on the paraprofessional’s role can provide great insight into the student’s ongoing needs.  While it is customary to collect data focusing on student behavior, it is suggested that staff also self-monitor their own involvement with the student throughout the day.  Sample content may include the types of prompts being used, the number of prompts required, and the proximity of the paraprofessional to the student.  This information can be used to describe how the services are being used to support the student and point to areas in which the student requires further assistance.  For example, if a student has consistent difficulty with unpacking and organizing his belongings each day, a visual list or schedule can be implemented to orient the student to the required tasks with the goal of gradually removing the adult from the prompt. The visual prompt can remain in place long-term and allow the student to work independent of adult assistance. Continuous documentation indicating the need for verbal prompting can signal a potential concern, thus leading to the development of new intervention strategies specific to promoting self-sufficiency for the student.

Ongoing assessment should also help to determine if the 1:1 support is needed throughout the entire day or just for specific subjects or activities.  By reviewing the student’s schedule and targeted needs across environments, the paraprofessional can be scheduled for support only when necessary.  Thus, student independence can be promoted by fading the adult support from specific activities or subjects.  Fading may be done gradually, with the paraprofessional taking increasingly greater steps away from supporting the individual in each setting.  For example, a student may be accustomed to being escorted to the bathroom, between classes, or to the bus at the end of the day.  A plan for promoting the student’s independence would consider whether the student could learn to navigate these transitions on their own or perhaps with a peer.  Rather than relying on the adult to prompt the student, alternate strategies should be investigated.

As educational teams plan how to support students, focusing on long-term goals for greater independence will serve a student well by preparing him/her for the future.  Collecting data throughout the fading process can help to pinpoint any new concerns, allowing the team to consider novel strategies for helping the student and maximizing opportunities for self-sufficiency.

References

Asher, M. J., Gordon, S. B., Selbst, M.C., Cooperberg, M. (2010). The Behavior Problems Resource Kit: Forms and Procedures for Identification, Measurement, and Intervention. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2013). Registered Behavior Technician Task List

Causton-Theoharis, J.N. (2009). The golden rule of providing support in inclusive classrooms: Support others as you would wish to be supported.  Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(2), 36-43.

Doyle, M. B. (2008). The paraprofessional’s guide to the inclusive classroom: Working as a team (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes

Giangreco, M.F. & Broer, S.M. (2007). School-based screening to determine overreliance on paraprofessionals.  Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22(3).

Giangreco, M.F., Edelman, S., Luiselli, T.E., & MacFarland, S.Z. (1997). Helping or hovering? Effects of instructional assistant proximity on students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 64, 7–18.

Giangreco, M.F., Halvorsen, A.T., Doyle, M.B. & Broer, S.M. (2004). Alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals in inclusive schools.  Journal of Special Education Leadership, 17(2), 82-90.

Hume, K., Loftin, R. & Lantz, J. (2009).  Increasing independence in autism spectrum disorders: A review of three focused interventions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(9), 1329-1338.

Stockall, N. S. (2014). When an aide really becomes an aid: Providing professional development for special education paraprofessionals. Teaching exceptional children46(6), 197-205.

Twachtman-Cullen, D. (2000). How to be a para pro: A comprehensive training manual for paraprofessionals. Higganum, CT: Starfish Specialty.

About the Author

Amy Golden, M.S., BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at St. Cloud State University.  agolden@behaviortherapyassociates.com

 

7

Aug

Child Playing

Some Top U.S. Educators Went to Finland. Their Big Takeaway: Empower Teachers

Summary: This article reports on a visit to Finland by several US State Teachers of the Year and their reaction to what they have learned about the Finnish system of education.  They found the main differences between Finland and the US teacher empowerment and respect for the teaching profession.

Source: Madeline Will, Education Week, August 4, 2017

Categories:  Teacher Satisfaction, Teacher Voice, Student Achievement

1

Aug

Happy Students

SEL Drive in Schools Is Opportunity for Youth Developers

Summary:  This article talks about the importance of SEL skills in helping students develop a balanced approach to achievement.  It moves away from “No Child Left Behind” and the focus on standardized tests to skills such as self-awareness, social connections, confidence and perseverance.

Source:  Katie Brackenridge, Youth Today, July 12, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement, Emotional Intelligence

27

Jul

Worried

Students Say They Don’t Know Where to Turn for Mental Health Services

Summary:  This article provides another take on the “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness” research study that was released by the Born This Way Foundation, which was founded by Lady Gaga in 2012 to assist young people in achieving mental and emotional well-being.  This article focuses on providing access to mental health resources to students in need of services.

Source:  Pat Donachie, Education DIVE, July 27, 2017

Categories:  School Health, Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence, Student Achievement

26

Jul

Is Social-Emotional Learning a Hoax? Readers Respond

Summary:  This post includes reactions from many readers who took issue with Chester Finn’s commentary calling social-emotional learning a hoax.  Read the reactions from educators and others across the county chiming in on the place of SEL in child development.

Source:  Education Week, July 18, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement, Positive Relationships, Empathy

26

Jul

Why Are Schools Still Peddling the Self-Esteem Hoax?

Summary:  This commentary found in Education Week, attacks SEL and equates it to the “self0-esteem” movement, ignoring the research that supports the positive aspects of SEL.  This commentary has set off a reaction by researchers who have written to Education Week in defense of the importance of social-emotional development for our students.

Source: Chester Finn, Ed Week Commentary, June 19, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement, Positive Relationships, Empathy