Time and time again, our clients tell us they see the best results when Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is not sporadically implemented but is embraced as an integral component of the school day. There are many ways to approach SEL instruction, but the key to success is to make SEL a systematic part of your school’s culture and climate.
One of the most successful approaches to teach students SEL skills is by integrating SEL lessons with traditional curricular instruction. First, a SEL assessment is generally used to inform instruction and measure student progress. As part of an assessment and intervention program, teachers are typically trained in how to deliver these lessons across the curriculum. Research shows this interdisciplinary approach to SEL to be very effective. However, SEL instruction shouldn’t stop there.
Another way that schools can systematically promote SEL skills is through policy and practice. For instance, a school may focus on two or three social and emotional competencies and promote them in activities such as in-service events, school assemblies, mentor programs, etc. Additionally, school leadership may form a team of educators tasked with promoting SEL, monitoring interventions, and tracking progress. The SEL strategy should also be integrated into multi-tiered systems of support. Counselors, social workers and psychologists should promote the universal SEL efforts of the school.
Another important area to focus on is strong relationship-building throughout the school. Teachers can naturally encourage SEL in their day-to-day interactions with students by:
- Offering emotional support and building strong educator-student relationships
- Interacting with students throughout the school day in a way that promotes positive social and emotional skills
- Fostering engagement by giving students a voice
Student-to-student relationships and educator-to-educator relationships are also important and should be prioritized.
Social and emotional assessment data is another critical element of an effective SEL strategy. Assessment data not only guides instruction and identifies individual student needs, but it can also be used to identify areas of need within the class, school or district. Schools can also use assessments to gauge student improvement both during implementation and at the end of the year.
Similar to the traditional curricular approach, more and more schools are opting for SEL instruction that is embedded into core content areas such as reading and math. Embedded SEL instruction has the benefits of direct instruction but goes further to give students opportunities to apply and practice social and emotional skills in real-life situations, but within the safety of a controlled setting.
Research shows that SEL is most effective when evidence-based methods are used in a range of settings, including (but not limited to) the classroom. Aperture supports school-wide integration through the DESSA. Also, with our SEL Foundational Practices, educators learn how to teach and model SEL, and students learn, practice, and apply these skills.
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