By Sam Piha
As social emotional learning becomes accepted as a vital part of youth programming, there is a growing number of resources for program leaders. Social emotional learning should not be seen as a "pile on" to the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs. Instead, SEL should be seen as intertwined with the Quality Standards.
Below, we offer two resources that have become available.
1) Temescal Associates and the California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC) worked together to design a series of program trainings based on the social emotional and character building framework (I AM, I BELONG, I CAN) developed by the Expanded Learning 360°/365 project. Those trainings are offered by CalSAC free of cost and you can get more information here.
2) The Susan Crown Exchange recently released an SEL Field Guide. We quote their announcement below.
"The SEL Field Guide is LIVE!
The 21st Century demands a modern approach to social and emotional learning.
In 2014, SCE launched the SEL Challenge to explore how young people are best supported in developing skills like empathy, teamwork, problem solving, and more. We gathered a learning community of researchers, expert practitioners and evaluators to study the practices of 8 exemplary programs with a proven track record of transforming the lives of teens.
The result of this work is the SEL field guide, Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social and Emotional Learning, available for download at SELpractices.org.
Visit the site to learn how your organization can support SEL skill building and improve outcomes for youth."
By Sam Piha
There has been a great deal of research and conversation about the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL). There have also been a number of terms and lists that are close cousins to SEL: non-cognitive skills, grit, growth mindsets, and others. How can practitioners sort all of this out and how best should we communicate with our K-12 colleagues and parents?
The Wallace Foundation recently commissioned Edge Research, Inc. to examine “the linguistic landscape of the many terms used to describe non-academic skills and finding some familiarity with ‘social and emotional learning.’” The primary goals of this research included:
They conducted a review of the literature, gathered surveys, and held focus groups with K-12 educators, afterschool leaders, and parents.
The key findings of this marketing research were:
1. There is no “silver bullet” term, but across the research phases, “social and emotional learning” emerges as one that is familiar and clear for Policy, K-12 and Afterschool leaders. It also tests well in parent focus groups.
2. Over the course of research, we moved away from terms that had strong, ancillary or even negative connotations (21st Century Skills, Whole Child Development, Soft Skills, Character). We also eliminated familiar terms deemed too generic for this topic (Youth Development, Success Factors).
3. In framing this issue, a concept that speaks to “Gains” for children has traction. Specifics about SEL skills (i.e. building positive relationships, navigating social environments), plus positively asserting that all children benefit, make this frame popular across stakeholder and parent audiences.
4. Other frames include language that resonates. Consider the right time to weave in themes and ideas about: all adults having a role, the learning equation, children realizing their potential, future citizens and the opportunity gap.
5. Despite agreement that SEL should be a priority, challenges exist for the future. The field identifies training and professional development as much-needed. Parents are wary of school and afterschool overstepping their bounds.
Edge researchers, Pam Loeb and Stacia Tipton, presented their study in a webinar sponsored by the Wallace Foundation. We urge field leaders in expanded learning to give it a listen by clicking here.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.