“As instructional minutes were dedicated to SEL, there was a collective realization of just how critical these skills are to academic success.”
At Seattle’s John Stanford International School, teaching social-emotional skills is just as important as teaching reading or math. Principal Dedy Fauntleroy knows her students will benefit from these skills all their lives: “One of the reasons that social-emotional learning is so important is because our job at school is to create productive, happy citizens. And to that end we teach math skills. We teach science skills. We teach reading and writing skills, and if we don’t have social-emotional learning as a component of that, then I think we’re doing children a grave disservice.”
Fauntleroy sees social-emotional learning as a practical part of a student’s education with real-world applications: “It’s just so important for us to make sure that our students have tools for social-emotional interactions. It’s something that we do every single day. We may not do math today. But we interact with each other every single day. So, isn’t it incumbent upon us to make sure that our students can do that effectively?”
Fauntleroy knows the teachers will benefit, too, because dealing with classroom management and bullying issues is often missing from their original training: “I don’t know that they do a whole lot of social-emotional training when you become a new teacher. So, when they join our staff, there’s an expectation that you’re going to be able to have the skill set to deal with it. But if we haven’t given you the tools, then the expectation can’t be there.”
As a result, Fauntleroy makes sure her staff gets the training and support so they can deal with fewer discipline problems and have more teaching time: “If we feel like it’s one of our core beliefs that children should have social-emotional learning and that we should be trained to be able to help them with that, then it just becomes easy to do. You have to just put the time aside. Just like for The Common Core. The Common Core is important. We have to do it. So we make the time for it. It’s about putting your core beliefs and your priorities in order.”
Learn more about Second Step Social-Emotional Learning.
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