A social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum adds valuable lessons to a student’s normal school day that will help propel them beyond academic success and onto success in life. No matter the program, there are common practices that lead to creating a successful and sustainable SEL environment. The presenters of “7 Must-Haves for Successful and Sustainable Social-Emotional Learning” reviewed these common practices and shared how they work in their district and school.
1. Leadership must be committed to the program.
Leadership does not have to be the school leaders; it can be the students themselves. In District Lead School Counselor Dr. O’Tasha Morgan’s district, students started to take on leadership roles and achieve more after the district implemented a mentoring program. The mentoring program gives students a chance to participate in community activities, engage in conversation with students in different grades, and demonstrate their SEL learning overall.
2. Professional development (PD) is mandatory.
Faculty and staff need to have PD on what SEL is all about and why it’s important. If they can identify with the PD in a way that impacts their personal lives, that’s a win-win situation. “Any time we can do the PD—it’s one of the only things that changes the teachers, as opposed to just kind of helping them strengthen their curriculum knowledge,” said Dr. Morgan. Derrick Hershey, principal at Shiloh Point Elementary School in Georgia, added that you can’t just provide teachers with a resource; you have to offer training to really dig into the subject.
3. Having a flexible SEL curriculum is important for both students and teachers.
Rather than always following a strict curriculum of assignments, give students the opportunity to work on passion projects. Allow teachers to teach lessons on subjects they’re passionate about. Flexibility in switching from the academic curriculum to the SEL curriculum is also necessary to turn classroom issues into teachable moments.