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Investing in SEL Training Makes Great Business Sense

The writing has been on the wall for some time.  It just took the disruptions of Covid-19 to accentuate what many companies already knew:  Business as usual just won’t cut it anymore.  Employees increasingly demand challenging and meaningful work, in an environment of their choosing.

These demands, coupled with competition on a global scale, are triggering what Deloitte Consulting in its 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report defines as a ‘boundaryless world’- a place where much  work defies any traditional job descriptions, where there may be no brick and mortar buildings and where workers don’t fit the description of traditional employees.

Working in a Boundary-Less World

If Deloitte’s predictions materialize, job candidates who are SEL-trained will be in the driver’s seat.  With a value system that favors reimagination and critical thinking over cost and productivity, SEL-skilled individuals who collaborate well, are accountable for their efforts and enjoy working in an environment where creativity and risk-taking are rewarded will be in high demand.

Consider this message that Deloitte’s report offers:

“To lead in this boundaryless world, organizations and workers should activate their curiosity, looking at each decision as an experiment that will expedite impact and generate new insights. Differentiation and winning will come not from always believing you must have the right answer at the start, but by being able to challenge orthodoxies, operate with humility and empathy, and learn from new information so you can refine as quickly as possible.”

Businesses are Hungry for SEL Skills

In this “boundary-less world”, SEL-skilled workers will also have a competitive edge when it comes to  their ability to visualize how to redefine industries. This ability, says Josh Bersin in his Global Workforce Intelligence Project workforce trend report Redesigning Jobs, Organizations and Work, will be in demand as a wide spectrum of industries pivot to new models of remote and hybrid work, human-centered leadership, diversity and innovation.

“As companies struggle to recruit, develop, and retain people,” says Bersin, ”they face a massive need for entirely new skills, new career pathways, new employment models, new organizational structures, and new HR practices.”

Problem Solvers Are in Demand

Such rapid changes come at a cost and workers who can solve problems and resolve conflicts within such a vast array of moving parts will stand outThat’s one of the key takeaways from a paper given at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos in late 2022. In “Education 4.0:  Here are 3 skills that students will need for the jobs of the future” adaptability, collaboration and problem solving are highlighted as the critical skills needed to bridge legacy business models with emerging ones.  Here again,  job candidates, trained in SEL curricula that emphasize these same skills, will have the competitive edge.

In many ways, the future will be a ‘people-controlled world’, says business consultant Accenture. The new power dynamics will center around employees who can create new connections and engage others in a world that is in constant upheaval.  With its emphasis on building  strong diverse relationships, investing in SEL training makes great business sense.

Patricia Kutza is a partner (with Connie Payne) in DGMS & Co. Their company offers books and workshops based on social and emotional learning principles to schools, labor workforce units and senior living communities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Does School Prepare Us for Life?

School prepares us for life, of course.

At school, we learn literacy and numeracy skills, science and history, plus, if we’re lucky, some health and arts as well. We also learn about friendship and social status and peer pressure and bullying and struggle, and disappointment. All those are part of life, too. 

But better questions to ask would be:

  • Does school prepare us for all of life?
  • How well does school prepare us for life? 
  • How could school better prepare us for life?

Read EQuip Our Kids! marketing director Matthew Spaur’s full comments at Upjourney

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The Crisis of Student Mental Health is Much Vaster Than We Realize

The change was gradual. At first, Riana Alexander was always tired. Then she began missing classes. She had been an honors student at her Arizona high school, just outside Phoenix. But last winter, after the isolation of remote learning, then the overload of a full-on return to school, her grades were slipping. She wasn’t eating a lot. She avoided friends.

Her worried mother searched for mental health treatment. Finally, in the spring, a three-day-a-week intensive program for depression helped the teenager steady herself and “want to get better,” Alexander said. Then, as she was finding her way, a girl at her school took her own life. Then a teen elsewhere in the district did the same. Then another.

Read the full article in Washington Post

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SEL Can Aid in Academic Recovery

A recent editorial by SEL expert Sara Rimm-Kauffman, originally published in the Los Angeles Times, highlights SEL’s role in helping schools and students recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Also, at a time like this, we can’t just think about academics, but also must consider a child’s social and emotional skills and well-being. It’s a good time to ask about our long-term goals for children and youth. In the 21st century, kids face an increasingly uncertain future. It’s not just about learning, but also about using new knowledge to work with others to address real-world problems in their communities and beyond.

Read the full article

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SEL Supports Academic Recovery After Pandemic

Maurice Elias of the EQuip Our Kids! speaker bureau was recently quoted regarding SEL’s support for academic recovery following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elias directs the Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab at Rutgers University.

We need to prioritize schools and classrooms that are safe, caring, supportive, and inclusive if we are to optimize students’ academic progress. This is true under any conditions, but especially so as a consequence of a pandemic. We need urgency leavened with loving patience.”

Read the full article

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Hiding in Plain Sight: Kids and Mental Health

Dr. Reigna El-Yashruti of the EQuip Our Kids! speaker bureau was recently interviewed for the Motherhood Moment blog.

Dr. El-Yashruti is a clinical psychologist in the Boston area. In August 2020, shortly after the largest non-nuclear explosion destroyed a large portion of Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. El-Yashruti held a virtual speaking engagement with Unilever Levant S.A.L. to support employees through education about common post-traumatic reactions, tools to promote well-being, and resources that could provide therapeutic interventions.

It’s important to remember that emotions in and of themselves are not good or bad, they’re simply experiences that contain information. If you as a parent start to notice patterns that are distressing for your child/the family unit or don’t quite seem to match the situation’s intensity, that could be an indicator that seeking counsel from trained providers could be helpful.

Read the full interview

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Making the Voting Process a Family Affair

With mid-term elections just around the corner, temperatures are rising. And it has less to do with climate change than the sheer number of heated promises, dire warnings and shaded truths that candidates pass for facts.  It’s not the greatest climate for introducing kids to the importance of voting.  The good news is that there are plenty of online resources to help make that discussion meaningful and even fun.

What Does Voting Have to Do With Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

SEL and voting are related in a few ways.

One, voting is a way for you to say whether you support SEL in your local schools.

Two, part of Social-Emotional Learning is social awareness. Elections and voting heighten our social awareness around issues and priorities for our local, state, and national communities.

And three, voting and elections is a great way to engage with your kids, teach them a bit about the wider world, and learn what’s important to them.

Start by Boosting Your News Literary Skills

Kids are great sleuths.   They can sniff out news from a variety of sources.  Unfortunately, they may rely on websites that skewer the facts.  This is particularly true during the election season.  Parents need to boost their news literary skills so that they can explain the concept of bias to their kids.

If their kids are fortunate enough to have SEL curriculum in school, that job will be made easier.  

Find websites that are dedicated to sharing tips about critically analyzing news reports.  The News Literary Project’s  is dedicated to helping readers determine the credibility of news so that they can make informed election choices.  Their recent article about determining reliable voting information sources offers solid advice that can also be shared with kids.

Don’t Bombard Your Kids With Too Much Detail

It is easy to get into the weeds when explaining the election process to your kids.  At the risk of having their eyes gloss over within seconds, start with talking about such basic concepts as the importance of voting. And then, this being the mid-term elections, segue into talking about how election outcomes at the local and state level can have powerful consequences even when the office of the presidency is not at stake.

Make it Fun!

Who says that learning about elections can’t be fun? 

In fact, a quick visit to will quickly make doubters into believers.  Created as a teacher-led resource, this site is also a tremendous gift to parents who want to educate their kids about all-things-government.  Their Election Headquarters section contains guides created by kids for kids, such as their Student Power Elections that offers ways for kids not old enough to vote to also engage in the electoral process. Reinforce their news literacy skills by playing their NewsFeedDefender game.  Other games focus on running a county and the election day voting process.

Making the election season a family affair may not guarantee your candidates win.  But it will give your loved ones another way to stay civics-minded and connected.  

Patricia Kutza is a partner (with Connie Payne) in DGMS & Co. Their company offers books and workshops based on social and emotional learning principles to schools, labor workforce units and senior living communities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash


SEL and Traditional Values: Supporting All Families

Regardless of political or religious affiliations, all parents want their children to thrive, instead of suffer. 

When parents picture their children thriving, they envision qualities and family values like these:

  • Being responsible, ethical, honest, accountable and respectful of others. 
  • The ability to take on challenges with the confidence to reach their full potential.
  • The self-discipline to succeed independently even if hard work is required, then  contribute to their communities and maintain a strong country.
  • The willingness and capacity to pursue academic or creative success. 
  • The mental and emotional fortitude to cope with stress and adversity, leading to a long, productive, and healthy life.
  • The range of hard and soft skills to be in demand in the current workforce and play important roles in organizations or succeed in their own businesses.

For all our children to thrive, it’s time to teach them the skills that will help them so they avoid many of the painful circumstances that afflict so many lives

  • Depression and traumas
  • Drug abuse
  • Crime
  • Suicide
  • Violence, including domestic
  • Poverty

These conditions undermine families, communities, and ultimately our country. They require costly interventions that are often paid for by parents, relatives, tax payers, and charities.

In short, it’s better – and cheaper – to raise emotionally healthy and capable kids than to fix broken adults.

So, how do we do this?

Parents at home do the best they can to impart values and ways of being in life in a successful way. Why not have schools back you up by teaching all our kids the essential life skills to manage life’s challenges and thrive.  

In education jargon, teaching these skills goes by the clunky name of Social-Emotional Learning. But these are the traditional – and necessary – life skills for success that develop responsible, self-managing, and caring adults. 

Let’s be sure that all our schools support your desire that your children gain the skills they need to thrive and be their best selves. And that your children attend schools where all students are learning to be, and relate to each other from, their best selves.  

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