Social Emotional Learning Skills by Grade Level, Part I

Social Emotional Learning Skills by Grade Level, Part I

Social and emotional (SEL) skills involve more than just the concepts surrounding educational buzzwords like growth mindset, grit, and self-advocacy. SEL skills are being emphasized at an even greater extent now that students are limited in their opportunities to socialize, collaborate, and communicate with peers in person. Distance learning and virtual schooling created various obstacles for students when it comes to developing and growing their SEL skills. For this reason, SEL has become an even greater focus for school districts, parents, and educators. Besides providing resources for building SEL skills at home, it is equally important for families to be able to determine if children are reaching specific grade-level SEL standards. In the following series, we’ll discuss each of the SEL skills students should have by grade level to provide a helpful resource for parents and educators alike.

Early Elementary Grades (K-3)

As expected, the SEL skills required for student success change or evolve as students progress through the grade levels. In elementary school, much of the SEL emphasis is on positive interactions with the world. Children are obviously highly dependent on adults during these years, yet they are beginning to enter their own social spheres with their peers as well. Here are some of the notable SEL skills children should have developed or are developing during this time:

Students should be able to recognize and articulate their feelings/emotions; they should be beginning to understand how feelings and reactions are connected to behaviors. Students should also be beginning to exhibit impulse control and regulating their emotions. Early learners should be able to describe their preferences: What do they like/dislike? What are their strengths/weaknesses? Students will also begin to articulate personal opinions and needs during this time.

Elementary schoolers should be able to identify when they need help and who is in a position to help them in certain situations, i.e., peers, family members, educators, etc. Children should be able to roughly explain how learning is connected to personal growth and success. Elementary–aged students should also be able to set personal goals regarding behavior and academics. Students will be beginning to understand that other people have different perspectives or ways of looking at a situation; they’ll recognize that others may share the same experience, but have varying opinions and viewpoints at the same time. Students will also be able to describe peoples’ similarities and differences.

Early learners should be able to actively listen to others’ viewpoints and recognize their feelings while listening. Elementary–aged students should be able to recognize and describe positive traits in others; they’ll be able to give genuine compliments. Students will also begin to develop collaborative skills such as how to work/play with peers in constructive ways, how to solve […]

10 ways for schools to gain traction with social-emotional learning programs

10 ways for schools to gain traction with social-emotional learning programs

Last year, schools ramped up social-emotional learning (SEL) to help students cope with the trauma of the pandemic and the nation’s racial reckoning. Now, many educators, buoyed by evidence of SEL’s value and parent surveys endorsing the emphasis on well-being in the classroom, say they are committed to SEL this year and beyond.

An influx of government money enabled schools to hire staff and launch SEL programs, which include lessons about showing empathy to others, managing emotions and developing responsible decision making.

“The case is easily made, if you think that learning happens in the context of relationships,” said Karen VanAusdal, senior director of practice at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a nonprofit that produced an SEL roadmap to reopening schools. “If you focus on social-emotional learning in a high-quality way, not only do you see gains in social-emotional competence and growth you see gains in academic learning. We are trying to move away from this ‘either-or’ thinking to see this as a ‘both-and’ approach.’”

SEL tops the list of services parents want expanded, especially in urban areas, according to school district leaders polled in June by the Rand Corporation. Studies reveal declines in children’s behavioral health during the pandemic. In a July McGraw-Hill survey, 53 percent of educators said Covid-19 and the shift to remote learning have caused their students emotional distress and created attendance problems. About 8 in 10 educators and parents believe SEL has become more important, the poll indicates; stand-alone SEL programs have doubled in the past three years.

Still, schools may need to rely on local district funding to keep SEL programs going when the federal grants expire. And not everyone is convinced of the program’s value: Some skeptics fear it takes away from core instruction. Experts, however, point to years of research linking SEL to academic success and other benefits as evidence for continued investment. But perceptions vary, so communication with families is critical for schools and districts wanting to expand or maintain their SEL programs.

While many support the practices of social-emotional learning, they are leery of the program by that name. A report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit that promotes educational excellence, finds Republican parents are somewhat more wary than Democrats of SEL, but parents across the political spectrum are united in their disdain for the term “social-emotional learning,” preferring “life skills” instead.

Whatever SEL is called, experts maintain kids need extra care during times of uncertainty — and this year is going to be as turbulent as any, with schools opening, closing and quarantining, said Stephanie Jones, a professor of education at the Harvard School of Graduate Education and co-author an analysis of leading SEL programs, sponsored by the Wallace Foundation. (The Wallace Foundation is among the many supporters of The Hechinger Report.) “We really got to weave in those social and emotional supports early and spend time on it so kids begin to feel safe, secure, comfortable, excited. And then the learning stuff will happen.”

Experts recommend 10 best practices to consider when implementing SEL:

Take a systemic approach.

Include school administrators, teachers, support staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and all students in SEL activities. “Don’t go it alone. Engage your colleagues, explain to them why it’s important,” said Shai Fuxman, a senior research scientist with the Education Development Center, a Massachusetts-based global nonprofit that designs and evaluates education programs. “Every adult in the building has to think about their role in promoting these important skills,” he added. Experts also urge parents and educators to pay attention to bite-sized opportunities outside the classroom to reinforce the concepts, including lessons from out-of-school time programs (supervised programs that young people attend when school is not in session). “SEL happens in teachable moments, if you are doing it authentically,” said Joe Aleardi, executive director of Horizons Bridgeport, who used the SEL Kernels of Practice in enrichment programs for low-income students while working at another Horizon program at Greens Farms Academy in Connecticut.

Social Emotional Learning in Schools for an Enriched Learning Environment

Social Emotional Learning in Schools for an Enriched Learning Environment

The current times call for a need to envision education with the demands of the present situation and for that very reason we must make changes to adapt well. The society we live in is constantly evolving and for the ever-changing world we also require education that garners tools that helps students to be not only academically excellent but also compassionate, responsible towards others and themselves. For this, we need to add something in the education system, that is, social-emotional learning. As of now, education is missing SEL which is a highly sensitive part of the system. Research in SEL shows that focusing on social and emotional aspects of children also helps in developing other academic skills from the early years of their life. Also, we need to take into account that both academic as well as emotional intelligence plays a huge role when we talk about education for the whole child.

Even The New Education Policy recognises the importance of Social-Emotional Learning for holistic development of children from early childhood. “Based on the developments that have taken place in the world of cognitive science, there is now deep engagement with the idea that these social and emotional competencies must be acquired by all learners and that all learners should become more academically, socially and emotionally competent”. (National Education Policy, 2019)

Social-Emotional Learning is a new way of looking at education, where students develop skills to be intellectually intelligent as well as grow to be kinder, compassionate, and responsible citizens of the society.

Here, we will try to understand what SEL is, why it is needed in schools, and some applications.

What is SEL?

As we break down each term separately, we could say that it is “an approach of learning that deals with society (Social/Outward) and with oneself (Emotional/Inward).” Maurice J Ellias stated, “Social-emotional skills, or ‘emotional intelligence’, is the name given to the set of abilities that allows students to work with others, learn effectively, and serve essential roles in their families, communities and places of work.” (The International Academy of Education, 2003). SEL is a process where children learn self-awareness, management, empathy, responsible decision making, etc.

SEL instructions are provided in schools to students by incorporating it through curriculum, activities, games, play, etc. This cultivates a sense of belongingness, caring, compassion towards each other and also with themselves. Social Emotional Learning provides an enriching environment and empowers students to be kinder, compassionate, and resilient not only for today but also for the unpredictable future. These skills equip children of today with better and positive interventions for tomorrow.

We can also say that SEL is more than a course or a subject. It is not something which is taught once and our work is finished. SEL is a life goal, it is continuous and ever changing.

School, Content, and Pedagogy

What we have seen till now is that curriculum, the content which is taught in schools primarily focus on academic excellence and social and emotional learning takes a back seat. Then, we say “Education is for a whole child”. When we talk about the whole child, why do we only focus academically? As we know that the traditional teaching model in schools is not of today but was designed many years ago as per the needs of that time. The present situation requires a change in the system. Which could be met when children not only excel academically but also socially and emotionally.

Parents Like Social-Emotional Learning, But Not the Name

Parents Like Social-Emotional Learning, But Not the Name

Parents are strongly in favor of schools teaching the skills promoted in social-emotional learning. Things like setting goals, controlling emotions, and being informed citizens. However, if you ask parents what they think of “social-emotional learning,” they may react negatively.

That’s because while the idea of social-emotional learning is popular with parents, the name isn’t, according to a nationally representative survey of parents by polling firm YouGov and commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

This disconnect—and other findings in the survey—have implications for the future of SEL, says the Fordham report based on the polling data.

Social-emotional learning is having a bit of a moment. Its reach has expanded significantly over the past decade. The number of states that have adopted standards or guidelines for SEL has grown from one in 2011 to 18 today.

Interest in building students’ social and emotional skills—especially around things like coping, responsible decisionmaking, and relationship-building—has only intensified with the pandemic. Educators and policymakers alike see SEL as a crucial means to help students recover from the trauma and disrupted schooling caused by the pandemic. Even some federal COVID-19 relief aid requires states to dedicate a certain amount of money toward responding to students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs.

But SEL is also facing some headwinds. Some people in conservative education circles believe that it’s imparting a more liberal set of ideals and that its benefits are oversold. More recently, SEL is being brought up in the political sphere and even linked to the fights over critical race theory, the academic concept that racism is embedded in legal systems and policies.

Idaho education leaders were rebuffed by some Republican state lawmakers in the House Education Committee last year over a social-emotional proposal with one lawmaker comparing it to the dystopian novel Brave New World . Others walked out of the hearing.

More recently, the Virginia Department of Education is facing pushback from some Republicans over draft state standards for SEL, with critics calling the proposal indoctrination and critical race theory by another name.

All that aside, though, large majorities of parents, regardless of background or political party, agreed in the YouGov poll: They are strongly in favor of schools teaching students skills such as how to set goals, approach challenges with optimism, believe in themselves and their abilities, and control their emotions.

When asked in the survey to rank in order of importance academic and social-emotional skills, a mix of the two came up in the top. Along with math, career and technical education, reading, science, and computer science, these SEL-related skills were also ranked among the 10 most important by parents: reasoning and problem-solving, responsibility for actions, communication and interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and self-motivation.

Among parents, 89 percent of Democrats and […]

Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)

If you’ve ever put off an important task by, say, alphabetizing your spice drawer, you know it wouldn’t be fair to describe yourself as lazy.

After all, alphabetizing requires focus and effort — and hey, maybe you even went the extra mile to wipe down each bottle before putting it back. And it’s not like you’re hanging out with friends or watching Netflix. You’re cleaning — something your parents would be proud of! This isn’t laziness or bad time management. This is procrastination.

If procrastination isn’t about laziness, then what is it about?

Etymologically, “procrastination” is derived from the Latin verb procrastinare — to put off until tomorrow. But it’s more than just voluntarily delaying. Procrastination is also derived from the ancient Greek word akrasia — doing something against our better judgment.

“It’s self-harm,” said Dr. Piers Steel, a professor of motivational psychology at the University of Calgary and the author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done . ”

That self-awareness is a key part of why procrastinating makes us feel so rotten. When we procrastinate, we’re not only aware that we’re avoiding the task in question, but also that doing so is probably a bad idea. And yet, we do it anyway.

“This is why we say that procrastination is essentially irrational,” said Dr. Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield. “It doesn’t make sense to do something you know is going to have negative consequences.”

She added: “People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.” Wait. We procrastinate because of bad moods?

In short: yes.

Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” said Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa.

In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as “the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.

The particular nature of our aversion depends on the given task or situation. It may be due to something inherently unpleasant about the task itself — having to clean a dirty bathroom or organizing a long, boring spreadsheet for your boss. But it might also result from deeper feelings related to the task, such as self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety or insecurity. Staring at a blank document, you might be thinking, I’m not smart enough to write this. Even if I am, what will people think of it? Writing is so hard. What if I do a bad job?

Why do we procrastinate, and how can we stop? Experts have answers.

If you’re reading this article instead of tackling one of the many projects you meant to do during the pandemic, or before starting the report due tomorrow at work, or as an alternative to changing your car’s year-old oil, feel no shame: This is a safe space, procrastinators, and you’re among friends.

Joseph Ferrari , a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and author of “ Still Procrastinating?: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done ,” has found that about 20 percent of adults are chronic procrastinators. “That’s higher than depression, higher than phobia, higher than panic attacks and alcoholism. And yet all of those are considered legitimate,” he said. “We try to trivialize this tendency, but it’s not a funny topic.”

Ferrari was speaking while on a road trip with his wife, who chimed in to say that she’s a procrastinator. Her tendencies helped spur her husband’s research interests. He doesn’t procrastinate — he has a 107-page résumé, he said, because he gets things done — but he’s built a career around understanding those who do.

Among his findings: Chronic procrastination doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race or age; we’re all susceptible. As he put it: “Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.” And contrary to popular belief, procrastinating has little to do with laziness. It’s far more complicated, he said, than simply being a matter of time management.

To understand what causes procrastination (outside of conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, where executive functioning issues might interfere with task completion), it’s important to be clear about what it is — and isn’t. Procrastination is different from delaying a task because you need to talk to someone who isn’t available, or not getting around to reading a literary classic such as “Moby Dick.” Fuschia Sirois , a professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield in England, defines procrastination this way: “The voluntary, unnecessary delay of an important task, despite knowing you’ll be worse off for doing so.”

On its surface, procrastination is an irrational behavior, Sirois said: “Why would somebody put something off to the last minute, and then they’re stressed out of their mind, and they end up doing a poor job or less than optimal job on it? And then they feel bad about it afterward, and it may even have implications for other people.”

The reason, she said, has to do with emotional self-regulation — and, in particular, an inability to manage negative moods around a certain task. We usually don’t procrastinate on fun things, she said. We procrastinate on tasks we find “difficult, unpleasant, aversive or just plain boring or stressful.” If a task feels especially overwhelming or provokes significant anxiety, it’s often easiest to avoid it.

Another reason people procrastinate, Sirois said, is because of low self-esteem. One might think: “I’m never going to do this right,” or, “What will my boss think if I screw up?”