Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Addressing Trauma and Building Resilience with the School Wellness Wheel

Categories: Guest Posts, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

The impact of trauma and toxic stress on the current generation of teachers and students cannot be overemphasized. Recent political events, racial justice issues, COVID surges, economic instability, and school violence have led to increasing levels of anxiety and dysfunction across a generation of learners. Contemporary medical and psychological research has cemented the fact that childhood stress and trauma can have a tremendous impact on mental and physical health outcomes throughout life. This is an issue for society in general, including schools, which are only now beginning to appreciate what trauma and toxic stress really mean and comprehend how detrimental they are to brain development. Former California surgeon general Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has asserted that childhood trauma is “a public health crisis” (Burke Harris, 2014).

On the bright side, updated research also strongly indicates that we humans have a profound ability to heal ourselves and each other. This phenomenon is often referred to as post-traumatic growth and can be demonstrated in survivors of violence, war, disasters, bereavement, economic devastation, and serious illnesses or injuries. 

Schools can and must play a critical role in facilitating this psychological growth by helping imbue learners with resilience. Read more

Just Walk

Categories: Authors, Guest Posts, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

When Solution Tree invited me to write a blog post in response to the horrifying news coming out of Uvalde, Texas, I immediately said yes. If I could help provide some soothing words to my fellow educators, it would be an honor. The first line of my bio states that I’m a fierce advocate for educators, and it’s the absolute truth. I’ve built my career around this one fundamental question: How can we take exquisite care of the adults in our schools so that they can take exquisite care of students? It’s the question that keeps me awake at night, particularly during the past few years. As I watched educators maneuver through COVID and the challenges of online teaching and learning, I tried to hold space and offer up everything I had in terms of wellness strategies centered around the adult, so that they were able to keep showing up for their students in the face of so much uncertainty and fear. It’s the work I continue to do to this day. Read more

Nine Ways to Create Powerful Teaching and Learning

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

 Elliott Seif is the author of Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

In my various roles in education, I have had direct teaching experience, conducted professional development with hundreds of preservice and practicing educators, and observed and had important discussions with teachers over many years. All these experiences have helped me learn a lot about powerful teaching and learning and what seems to work well for many teachers in many circumstances and situations.

My ideas and suggestions below, based on my many years of experience, will hopefully be helpful to educators and suggest ways to think about powerful teaching and learning. I have classified these suggestions into nine categories, and you may find the categories themselves helpful as a way of thinking about how to improve teaching and learning. Read more

Building a Foundation for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) within Elementary Schools

Categories: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

While implementing meaningful and authentic SEL instruction throughout the school day.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) continues to be a hot topic as we move into 2022. Although the concepts around SEL are not new, we are encountering educators and parents whose ideas differ around what it is and what it is not; leading some schools to focus on SEL while others may still not.

As educators, many of us recognize how essential social-emotional learning is both for our students and ourselves. Yet, we have so many other pressing needs throughout the school year, we can find it difficult to prioritize SEL for our students. As we begin to engage in necessary collaborative practices around SEL we may find ourselves designating certain time periods of the school day to focus on SEL but still not seeing a true difference in our students. Why is this? Dufour, et. al. state that collaboration only works and leads to improved results when the people are focused on the right work. So, how do we honor what we know is important and focus on the right work, while also balancing everything else?

Read more

Five Questions Every Teacher Needs to Ask Often

Categories: Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

Based on Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

In today’s uncertain and changing world, teachers need to continually ask themselves five questions that help them to decide on what’s important to teach and how to teach in order to prepare students for future success. They are useful questions to ask for both in person and online teaching situations.

What can I do to:

  • Develop a positive classroom and school climate, culture, and environment for learning?
  • Focus student learning around relevant, meaningful, important, and significant content and vital skills?
  • Help students apply and deepen learning and become independent learners?
  • Help to broaden and enrich student experiences, interests, and talents?
  • Help students meet high-quality standards and share their learning and work with others?

Read more