Educators across the nation are seeing an uptick in disruptions in their classrooms. You can use SEL to promote behavior goals for students because it pairs key domains of social and emotional competence with intervention strategies and tactics. When educators integrate tactics they know align with their students’ skillset, they are more successful in mitigating disruptive behaviors.
The Behavior of a Student
As educators, you know there are many reasons why students may be acting out. It could be due to a lack of confidence that is a way to mask insecurity. It could be that they don’t have the ability to express how they are feeling. Alternatively, some students may find the classroom environment overstimulating. In these instances, students need to learn how to apply coping skills to self-regulate. Or it could be that something at home is affecting how the student is able to focus in class.
There are even more factors than this that impact students, too. Each student may need a different set of tools. Specifically, in regards to processing their emotions, self-regulating, and being able to focus on a specific task. These variations should be considered when identifying behavior goals for students.
SEL can help! Social and emotional skills help us break down a big problem or challenge by focusing on what we can control— how we respond to our feelings. SEL can help students feel empowered. When students have a better understanding of why they are feeling what they’re feeling and have a toolkit of strategies to work through their boredom or restlessness, they are less likely to act out in class. With the tools to help students feel seen, validated, and accepted, the opportunities for learning are endless.
What other role does SEL play in student behavior?
Behavior Goals For Students: Academic Achievement
Equipping students with social and emotional skills leads to academic success. SEL can positively impact students’ standardized test scores and GPAs, particularly in reading and math. A 2017 meta-analysis of 82 SEL interventions involving more than 97,000 K–12 students found the academic performance of students who participated in an SEL program was 13% higher than peers not participating in SEL programs.
Behavior Goals For Students: Mental Wellness
Early screening and assessment offer a proactive way to identify your students’ social and emotional strengths and needs, promoting their overall mental wellness. Working intentionally with students through developing social and emotional skills is a preventive approach to strengthening students’ mental, social, and emotional well-being. Mental health professionals can use the DESSA’s comprehensive, individualized insights to inform interventions and support plans.
Communicating with Families
Understanding students’ strengths can also assist in conversations with families on mental health concerns. For parents who might be confused or even defensive about SEL instruction for their child, educators can use the individual student’s strengths to initiate a conversation about the value of SEL, what it entails, and how these ‘soft skills’ are statistically proven to improve student outcomes, socially, and academically. Providing educators with individualized strength-based skills to initiate a conversation with dissenting or apprehensive parents can diffuse the antithetical viewpoint and offers the educator an opportunity to illustrate the truth about SEL; that it focuses on the skills that work in conjunction with academic benchmarks to help students thrive, to develop a positive sense of self, stay on task, and build peer relationships. Using strength-based language to explain to families how their child’s strengths can be employed to develop areas where they could use improvement allows families to feel more empowered and optimistic about school-based SEL programming. It also gives families a path forward to working with their children to build on their skill sets at home.