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Let’s Talk About Social- Emotional Teaching and Learning

A new course offered by the Teacher Training Center (TTC)
By Sue Easton
Let’s Talk About Social- Emotional Teaching and Learning

Just about every day on my Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn feed, I find an article about the importance of Social and Emotional (SEL) teaching and learning in our K–12 schools. The articles reference research from esteemed groups such as CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning); the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development; and the Centre for Global Education.
All of these groups—and many more—have concluded over the past twenty or so years that social and emotional teaching and learning increases academic achievement, social and emotional competence, and even, ultimately, improves the economy, while lowering the incidence of many mental health and behavioral issues.
The research seems conclusive: SEL teaching and learning is not an add-on, but a vital component of a balanced K–12 curriculum to ensure student achievement and, ultimately, the development of healthy, successful citizens.
In November, I sent out a survey to our PTC member schools, asking what international schools were doing to implement this important shift in educational practice.
The results, as expected, were incredibly varied. However, one theme was clear: there are many schools beginning the process of incorporating SEL dispositions and/or “soft skills” into their curriculum, but none that feel confident that SEL is being taught, assessed, and reported effectively.
Why? There are many resources telling schools what they need to incorporate into their curriculum, but few telling them how to do it.
Each of our international schools is, therefore, taking a slightly different approach. Some are using counselors or other support teachers to teach SEL skills and dispositions to students through weekly Advisory, Study Skills, and Wellbeing classes.
Some schools have rolled these into the role of the homeroom teacher through class meetings, Peace Circles, Life Architecture Labs, and Core Value Lessons. Some schools are including SEL teaching and learning in their current curriculum units, identifying key transdisciplinary skills and schoolwide dispositions to be explicitly taught during curriculum units.
“Only two schools were currently assessing, providing feedback to students, and reporting to parents on SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), though many said this was their long-term plan. Schools were using CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) standards, IB ATL (International Baccalaureate Approaches to Learning), schoolwide learning results (SLRs), International Model for School Counselling Programs student content standards, the PERMA model (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Accomplishments), TESA (Teacher Expectation and Student Achievement), and IFSEL (Institute for Social and Emotional Learning), as the basis of their instruction, just to name a few. I was impressed with the amount of work being done by individual schools—all different, yet all with the same goals.”
At the PTC, we develop new courses based on the needs of our international school community. The results of my survey confirmed a need for more discussion and learning about how to integrate SEL teaching and learning into our schools.
That is how our new course—Social and Emotional Teaching and Learning in International Schools, 9-13 July in Rome—was born.
The Takeaway
From our research, some key messages, supported in this course, have emerged:
1. Social-emotional development needs to happen in conjunction with academic learning, not in isolation.
2. High-quality professional development is needed to help teachers with this integration, but must be the beginning of an ongoing discussion for continual improvement.
3. Social and emotional teaching and learning must include dispositions and skills.
The survey results confirm a need for more discussion as an international school community. Please join us.

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10/19/2018 - Bill
Educators interested in SEL programs might also look at the work done by the European Network for Social Emotional Competece (ENSEC). This EU based organization now brings in SEL educators worldwide. They have a pre-K - 3 curriculum (RECUR) that has been empirically validated (free access and in 7 languages). ENSEC semi-annual conference will be held in Budapest, Hungary 29-31 August 2019.
08/20/2018 - Catherine
I am extremely interested in this topic. We embarked on an audit of our pastoral care a couple of years ago and now use bear's 5 areas of pastoral care ( reactive. Proactive environment and ethos , management and pastoral curriculum). After tackling the first 4 we are now introducing an adaptation of the Casel framework for our pastoral curriculum. As you mentioned in the article the HOW to do it effectively is our stumbling block. Many excellent teachers in their own field are not comfortable talk ing about and exploring some of the topics. Any advice training or resources warmly welcome!