Social Emotional Learning
Posted on March 03, 2015
As we share about our newly expanded Aldersgate Academy, you have probably heard us highlighting the Social Emotional Learning tools and environment our teachers and staff are utilizing to transform our students’ academic experience. But what is Social Emotional Learning?
SEL refers to a process that integrates not just how a student thinks, but how he/she feels and behaves into the learning process. For our students, learning how to recognize and regulate their emotions is one of the most important steps towards their success, not just academically but in every area of life. At its core, SEL revolves around five competencies we teach towards in order for our students to become their best selves and function at their highest level. CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning), an organization promoting SEL awareness, provides a great outline of these competencies:
Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.
Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.
Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.
By keeping our class sizes down to 8 students per class, our highly trained teachers are able to give our students the one-on-one attention they need to be able to start implementing SEL tools. By taking the time to acknowledge and teach to the whole student, and not just their academic goals, we are already seeing the benefits for our students. GPAs have significantly improved. Attendance issues are decreased. Our students are genuinely excited to go to school and motivated to turn their academic experience around. Here’s how several students describe their experience:
“When I started at Aldersgate, I had a hard time with school. I tried to sleep in a lot of my classes, walked out of class, used hurtful language and didn’t want to listen. Well honestly I didn’t notice it at first but as the school year went on I figured out that God was in the school all the way. What I mean by that is I saw Him in the teachers, the assistants, and the students. Just everywhere you went and everything you did I just felt like it was a blessing to me. The teachers don’t judge, don’t hate, don’t have favorites, they just love and care and want to help you. This school has made a big change in my life. I make better grades. My grade point average is a 3.75. I have matured in my behavior and my anger.” – Grace, gr. 10
“When I walk through the doors and see everyone in the gym in the morning, I feel and say to myself that “I don’t have friends here… I have family.” We are a team/a family – and family and teams stick together!! Also it’s hard for me to see myself not in this school because it’s a part of me, I’ve never in my whole life have been doing good in school but here I feel good about myself, staying out of trouble and I’m doing so well in school” – Missy, gr. 8
We want our students to succeed—and Social Emotional Learning gives us the tools to best make that happen. We look forward to watching this program grow and students’ lives changed as a result.