Classroom and School-wide SEL

Classroom and School-wide SEL

For any classroom to run smoothly, teachers must provide routines, communicate expectations, and give guidance for individual and collaborative learning. Activities that promote personal and social skills and teach students strategies to focus, self-regulate, and resolve conflict can go a long way in creating a classroom conducive to learning. In this sense, SEL is a pro-active approach and many teachers are explicit in teaching their students ways they can be successful as individuals and as a class. Our teachers use a variety of resources to teach SEL, from programs such as Lions-Quest and Second Step, to tried-and-true classroom management techniques such as class meetings, brain breaks, I-messages, and problem-solving processes.

When problems arise, such as conflict between students, teachers often use “teachable moments” to encourage students to reflect on the situation and their feelings, learn from mistakes, and consider and try solutions. Recess and lunchtime are often a proving ground for students to practice their social and emotional skills, learn when to compromise, self-advocate, and if necessary, get help.

Prevention lessons are a part of SEL across the grades and include topics such as preventing and responding to bullying, growing up drug-free (DARE and Lions-Quest), understanding peer pressure, making healthy choices (Robert Crown Center and Health class in middle school), responding to feelings of depression (Erika’s Lighthouse in middle school), and recognizing child sexual abuse (Erin’s Law). While each of these topics has specific content, they are all rooted in the fundamental social and emotional skills which are necessary to prepare students for the complex situations and problems they encounter while growing up.

All schools in District 181 place emphasis on preparing students to be good citizens by focusing on characteristics such as respect, responsibility, excellence, and caring for others. Parents, the PTOs, D181 Foundation, club leaders, and others give students opportunities to contribute to their schools and communities in myriad ways.

All together, social and emotional skill development and practice, pro-active information about risk-taking behaviors, and learning from mistakes in the presence of caring adults in a supportive community provide most students with the skills they need to learn and be successful in their lives.