February 13th 12:00-3:00 Secondary Team Plan (location TBA)
March 7th 8:30-11:00 Elementary Team Plan Day (location TBA)
April 24th 12:00-3:00 Secondary Team Plan (location TBA)
What we should teach and assess in U.S. schools is a contentious issue. So, when a majority of parents and K–12 educators agrees that one group of skills is "very important" to teach and assess, those are likely skills people have noticed that young people sorely need. Such a consensus seems clear for the collection of abilities highlighted in this issue—skills connected to understanding emotions, forming relationships, making good choices, and tackling tough work. In a recent Gallup poll, majorities of parents, teachers, and school administrators said it's "very important" to assess certain social and emotional skills in school.1
Social-emotional skills—also called "character strengths," "interpersonal skills," "noncognitive abilities," and (a misnomer) "soft skills"—have always been stressed by caring educators. Teaching for these capabilities—social-emotional learning—is key to ASCD's Whole Child approach, and groups like the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) have spent decades identifying central social-emotional skills and competencies. Empathy, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, "grit," self-regulation—the list of what SEL lessons and approaches teach kids is lengthy and compelling, and not just for kids.
The call to put social-emotional learning on a par with academics is growing louder—partly because of cultural signs showing that talents like resolving conflicts and collaborating with others elude many Americans. Violence and even killings in schools or by young people make regular headlines, and reports of what U.S. businesses say they will need in future employees list self-discipline and collaboration skills as top priorities.2
But the calls are also increasing because of the research base on the effectiveness of SEL programs. Studies show that well-designed SEL programs can increase students' academic achievement and improve their life outcomes. Higher odds of getting a high school diploma, a better shot at college, and even a lower likelihood of arrest—all are correlated with exposure to solid SEL instruction. Amanda Nickerson's research finds that approaches to curbing bullying that strengthen SEL competencies are more successful. Strategies to regulate emotions can help teachers, too.
So how to fulfill that promise? The authors featured in this issue lay out a range of ways to strengthen social-emotional skills and dispositions among students. In our lead article, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Marc A. Brackett discusses an approach for increasing students' emotional intelligence, the awareness that all emotions can be helpful if we tune into them and use them wisely.
Knowing one's own emotions, Brackett and others note, is a building block of empathy—the quality that parenting expert Michele Borba explores in depth. Borba explicates nine competencies of empathy, with real-life examples from schools of how to teach for each. As a bonus, this issue provides a short visual learning resource (a serious comic strip, so to speak) elementary teachers can share with their students to spark reflection on empathy.
This issue also delves into more hotly debated SEL-related concepts. In an exclusive interview, Angela Duckworth discusses what she sees as misconceptions around her research on "grit," highlights the importance of interpersonal character strengths, and explains why measuring social-emotional skills can be tricky.
Richard Weissbourd of Harvard, meanwhile, positions social-emotional learning as a key part of confronting the problem of sexual harassment and misogyny in schools.
Our authors agree that improving social-emotional skills isn't a matter of completing an isolated program or following a set of steps. It must be embedded in the day-to-day work of schools and include modeling from adults who've strengthened their own social-emotional capacities. As Carol Ann Tomlinson puts it, "SEL is not a program or a curriculum, but a way to be together".
The fastest way to get your questions answered is to contact the right person!
McKenzie White (531) 299-9362 Instructional technology , ITL Program
Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).
Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).