Considerations for Developing Social, Emotional, and Academic Capacity
With the introduction of MTSS, greater emphasis is being placed on the need for educators to consider the role that Social-Emotional Learning plays in our educational system. There are many programs surfacing to support districts and certainly more information is available to help decision makers. In conversation with some colleagues from across the state, they mentioned the value of the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and their final report A Nation at Hope which was published in January 2019.
The National Commission had the straightforward intent of really listening to those engaged in education across the nation. Just as many of you have recognized in your districts, their work showed that students require “a broad array of skills, attitudes, character traits, and values to succeed in school, careers, and life. They require skills such as paying attention, setting goals, collaboration, and planning for the future. They require attitudes such as internal motivation, perseverance, and a sense of purpose. They require values such as responsibility, honesty, and integrity. They require the abilities to think critically, consider diverse views, and problem solve.” In essence they need social, emotional, and academic competence to be successful. Research shows that tending to these factors positively affects the measures we tend to focus on: attendance, test scores, graduation rates, etc.
The National Commission is clear that “educating the whole learner cannot be reduced to a simple set of policies or proposals. It is, instead, a mindset that should inform the entire educational enterprise.” The report provides six recommendations aimed at the organizations and individuals that will affect change for students/children:
- Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child
- Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people
- Change instruction to teach social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and in schoolwide practices
- Build adult expertise in child development
- Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child
- Forge closer connections between research and practice
There are many resources available as part of the report. Videos demonstrating strategies that support students developing the whole child and increasing their SEL capacity may be found here and should prove helpful in this work.
Executive Director, Educational Support Services
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education