Authors: Adrian Goodman, Whitnee Grant, and Tiffany Halls
In these unprecedented times, the urgency for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in education has only increased. CASEL, a leader in SEL, defines SEL as the process through which people acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. SCASCD Emerging Leaders hosted a Twitter chat with teachers and administrators across the state to share ideas and reflect on where we are in the process of implementing Social and Emotional practices within our schools. The special guest moderators were Jennifer Holman, Assistant Administrator; Kristen Eubanks, Principal; and Meredith Welch, Assistant Principal.
A theme that appeared across the comments from educators throughout the Twitter chat was implementation of SEL is most effective and meaningful when it is aligned and integrated with the rituals and routines of a school culture.
We will revisit the questions and comments in the chat to get a glimpse of the social and emotional practices implemented by teachers and administrators across the state and their impact on SEL.
Where is your school in the implementation of social and emotional practices?
The participants in the chat were in many different stages of implementation of social and emotions practices, but all participants were playing a part in some way. . One school began implementation of social and emotional practices by building teacher capacity in the ability to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, set and achieve goals, build positive relationships and make responsible and empathetic decisions. Many participants shared that they began implementing SEL in small ways with students. Those small actions included a weekly focus on an SEL core value or skill on the morning news or within a classroom meeting. Sloan Joseph shared that her middle school begins each morning with a school-wide mindfulness minute. A middle school principal stated that SEL is built into each student’s daily schedule.
What are the happenings in your classroom/school (virtual or in-person) that reflect social and emotional learning?
The participants shared many actions and moments that reflected social and emotional learning in their classrooms and schools.
One school-wide initiative that the educators in the chat wanted to learn more about was “Text 2 Tuesday” shared by Meredith Welch. “Text 2 Tuesday” encourages the staff to send two texts to two people telling them what they are doing right, good, or amazing.
This type of specific feedback not only builds positive relationships among colleagues, but also gives teachers the opportunity to recognize each other for reaching goals and making responsible or empathetic decisions. Another participant suggested using the same concept with students and their families. Sloan Joseph shared that her school participants in ‘“Thankful Thursdays”’ where staff write each other thank you cards one Thursday a month.
As Pam Inabinett later posted, “We can start a revolution with an idea like Text 2 Tuesday.” Other school-wide initiatives to promote positive relationships and healthy emotions and identities included weekly town hall meetings, self-care bingo, circle meetings with self-reflections, and daily greetings and closures. Many participants shared that schools are maintaining these practices to ensure SEL is reflected in all settings, virtual, in-person, or hybrid.
What is your school doing to promote social and emotional best practices for your staff?
Administrators are encouraging community building and continued growth in social and emotional learning for their staff in a variety of ways. Self-care tips are shared in newsletters and prompted through events such as “Feel Good Fridays” that give staff the opportunity to receive facials or massages from local businesses. School counselors have played a key role in promoting social and emotional best practices for staff in addition to their work with students by sharing practical strategies to develop skills such as goal-setting and decision making. It was clear from the chat that many administrators put self-care as a priority in their school culture with statements similar to Meredith Welch’s, “We are working hard to make sure our staff knows that self-care is giving the world the best of them instead of what’s left of them.”
How do you practice self-care?
A few trends found across the participants' comments regarding self-care were exercising, prioritizing some type of quiet time each day, and spending time with family. One idea for self-care that received a lot of responses during the chat was watching a show that involves little, to no, thinking. The participants began suggesting shows that fit in that category. This shows how easily we can support one another in the practice of self-care just by creating a community that shares ideas and resources.
How has virtual learning impacted social emotional learning at your school?
For the majority of the participants in the Twitter chat, virtual learning has not changed the priority for social and emotional learning, only the approach. One school holds town hall and circle meetings virtually. If anything, virtual learning has only magnified the need for connection and healthy social interactions. Virtual learning has made schools more intentional about explicitly teaching social and emotional skills.
What is one action you can take in the next month to continue to improve the social and emotional practices at your school/in your classroom?
Here are a few actions our participants will take to continue to improve their social emotional practices:
“During this ‘March Madness,’ #MEDatBCE plans to spend even more time on wellness and JOY.” -Kristen Eubanks
“I’d like to get back to that Gratitude Journal and be intentionally thankful for all that I have.” - Pam Inabinett
“Being intentional about praising teachers for their efforts more often.” - Lauren Nifong
“My focus the past two weeks has been to attend a different morning meeting each day - it's been the best start to my day!” - Meredith Welch
“We are trying to restart some club activities. Things that will give our babies supportive, socially-distant outlets.” - @HistoryKimma
“I really like the Text 2 Tuesday. I think I’m going to give that a try this week and see what happens.” - Jennifer Holman
“My #OneWord for the year is “listen.” By staying focused on this action word, I’m intentional about keeping my office door open (as often as possible) so Ss and staff know there is a safe space to be heard.” - Sloan Joseph
Our hope is that these statements will inspire you in your journey of implementing SEL in your school or classroom. Let’s keep the conversation going as we continue to develop and strengthen practices that promote social and emotional learning within our schools and classrooms.