Seize the Moment to Talk About Social-Emotional Learning

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Parents and businesses can be effective partners in promoting social and emotional learning (SEL) within their family, business and school environments. At home they can create opportunities by modeling its principles with their children.  At work businesses can work to align their policies with diversity benchmarks. 

But at school, where the opportunities may look more like challenges because teachers and administrators are often balancing competing  priorities, getting and keeping their attention to talk about SEL-based curriculum can feel like a fruitless attempt.

Break Your Message Into Short Call-For-Action Suggestions

To find a conversational opening, parents and businesses can borrow a common teacher technique:  Break their message into short call-for-action suggestions that teachers and administrators can act on without stretching their resources. 

For example, they can take cues from ten indicators listed in a recent study developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning [CASEL]. These indicators, shown below, describe what a comprehensive SEL implementation looks like. Schools that don’t already offer comprehensive SEL probably won’t be able to implement everything that’s missing all at once.

Here we offer a simple call-for-action suggestion related to each indicator:

Indicator of Comprehensive SELCall to Action: Encourage Your Schools To…
1. Explicit SEL InstructionCelebrate cultural holidays
2. SEL integrated with academic instructionIncorporate cross-cultural music studies into lesson plans
3. Youth voice and engagementEngage students in a key-decision-making activity
4. Supportive school and classroom climatesEncourage inter-classroom activities
5. Focus on adult SELEncourage inter-staff activities
6. Supportive disciplineAssess whether current discipline policies are equally applied and restorative.
7. A continuum of integrated supportsEncourage SEL buy-in among staff at all levels
8. Authentic family partnershipsSuggest activities where parents can partner with school staff
9. Aligned community partnershipsInclude a community organization in a school SEL-oriented event
10. Systems for continuous improvementSuggest a process for measuring progress in SEL implementation

Appeal to Their Competitive Spirit

When encountering resistance, parents may want to try the time-tested technique of appealing to the school’s competitive spirit:  To aid their study, CASEL received survey responses from approximately 1,200 K–12 classroom teachers and 1,100 school principals.  Seventy-six percent of the principals and 53 percent of teachers nationally reported that their schools used a social and emotional learning (SEL) program or SEL curriculum materials in the 2021–2022 school year. 

There has never been a better time to join this growing movement.

If you want more ideas about how to talk with your schools about SEL, check out our guides for parents and for businesses.

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