Why Social-Emotional Learning Means “First Things First”
In the wake of 2020, many of us took a tumble down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, often back to the most basic survival levels. The problem with being at the very foundational, survival levels is that no one has extra energy and resources to focus on academics. According to Maslow, people need to feel safe and connected to other human beings in order to focus on learning and growth. As an administrator, here are three things you can do to promote social-emotional learning and well-being to foster academic achievement.
Take Care of Yourself
Leading the way means first taking care of yourself. While it’s perfectly normal to feel angry, frightened, or tired because of the health and political issues affecting your school, it is not okay to lash out at others. You can’t set a culture of safety and connection for your school if you are feeling frantic, angry, or isolated yourself. By making time to recognize your emotions and take care of yourself, you will have emotional energy freed up to take care of your school community.
Provide Scaffolding and Tools
It takes time, energy, and training for teachers to prepare each day. This is a problem when teachers hit burnout and struggle just to keep going each day. By providing solid curriculum materials for teachers, you can free up their valuable time and energy to connect with students and each other.
Our social-emotional learning (SEL) program — Studies Weekly: Well-Being — provides just such a resource. With little prep time, teachers can focus on social-emotional learning to help students regulate their emotions and engage in positive social behavior. As students and teachers learn healthy skills and strategies, they have tools to improve culture and pay attention to learning.
Build a Community
One of the tremendous benefits of implementing a social-emotional curriculum is that it gives everyone in a school community the same language. Building community is much easier if everyone knows what a growth mindset is or what empathy is all about. By providing a vertically-aligned curriculum such as Studies Weekly: Well-Being, students, and teachers can foster a positive school culture through common vocabulary and developmentally appropriate content for each age group.
It’s easy to worry about test prep and intensify focus on the standards, but before you come up with academic plans, try leading out with bringing your best self to school so that your teachers and students can too.
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