Thursday, February 29, 2024

    SEL Education: All You Need to Know

    While we teach our kids tons of things they’ll never get to apply in real life, we often neglect the idea of teaching them some of the most basic stuff.

    • How do they make and maintain friendships?
    • Why is it important to control your emotions, and how do you do it?
    • What does it mean to develop social awareness?

    It’s only prejudiced that these three subjects are too “abstract” to fit a curriculum. If anything, SEL (social-emotional learning) education is proof of this. Through SEL education, we can help kids adapt and find their place in the world much easier. With that in mind, here’s what you should know about SEL education.

    Preparing them for life and future career

    Having developed social skills and emotional intelligence is one of the prerequisites to having a positive academic experience and a successful career. Knowing how to play with others, network, and work together on projects requires these skills.

    So, this benefits the students in the long run. In fact, other than being great with tech, we could argue that social-emotional skills are the most important trait when searching job in 2023. The sooner you develop them, the longer you reap the benefits.

    Remember that students who get along well with their peers have many benefits. They can exchange notes, access more learning materials, and have a greater chance of being updated on any changes they would have missed. Even the moral support of knowing that your classmates have your back can mean the world. These relationships and dependencies, however, need to be built. For this to work, you must first teach your students how to build these connections.

    At the same time, experiencing support and understanding from one’s peers impacts one’s learning experience. Feeling accepted in your group may help you develop a positive attitude towards the course you’re taking with them.

    The skills they develop here will guide them throughout their life. They will benefit them in job-hunting, price negotiations, and personal relations. In other words, these are the skills you’ll use in virtually every aspect of your life.

    A combination of classroom instruction and interactive activities

    According to specialists behind Livestream Learning Studio, students learn best in an interactive and dynamic environment. While the traditional approach to learning had its purpose, it was more material-oriented than student-centric. It was time for this to change.

    The thing is that SEL education necessitates this because it focuses on traits and skills you can’t adopt straight from the book.

    For instance, problem-solving is a skill that almost everyone puts on their CV and that most employers use when making their job requirements. Now, contrary to the fact that everyone uses this phrase, it’s not just a filer. You need to improve by learning to adopt a more critical approach to the situation and observe the problem from both sides.

    In an efficient SEL learning environment, a teacher may ask students with conflicting opinions to defend each other’s stances. Ideally, they would give them time to ponder the situation and research. This way, they’ll learn how to play Devil’s Advocate, an essential skill many people skip.

    Positive teacher-student relationships

    Trust is more critical in SEL education than it ever was before. This is why there’s a higher emphasis on two things:

    • Positive student-teacher relationship
    • Teacher wellbeing

    The easiest way to do this is to create smaller learning groups. This way, teachers will have more time to give individual attention to every single student without anyone feeling left out. The active-involvement that we’ve discussed will already create an environment where this will be more likely.

    Most importantly, a teacher needs to show a genuine interest in the development of their students. This has to come from a place of real concern, and it’s near-impossible to fake.  

    For this to work, the emphasis must be on the well-being of both students and teachers. Traditionally, the entire methodology was centered around students, which, although it makes sense, also creates a problem by ignoring the interests and sentiments of the teachers. This caused higher teacher burnout and desensitization rate, which could set you behind.

    Higher degree of collaboration

    The biggest challenge of SEL education lies in its reliance on collaboration between all parties involved. It’s not just the teacher and the student; a whole educational institution, families, and community should be involved. It’s also common for several organizations to team up for optimal results.

    Remember that we’re talking about social-emotional development, which is why the work done in school needs to be picked up at home. While classmates from different backgrounds may surround your students, and you may try to simulate as many real-life scenarios as possible, there’s only so much you can do in school.

    SEL education takes a more holistic approach to one’s emotional development but also requires more elaborate support. Fortunately, as this learning method becomes more popularized, this collaboration level will be much easier. For now, however, educational organizations need to be the ones to reach out.

    So much room for flexibility

    One of the most important things to remember is that there’s no universal SEL education recipe. Instead, you have a highly customizable model with much room for personalization. This is why its effectiveness heavily depends on the staff behind it and the subjects (students). Factors like:

    • Age group
    • Grade level
    • Community
    • Background
    • Traits

    All of these affect the curriculum and the learning model.

    It’s also important to mention that it’s not restricted to a conventional classroom. You can also integrate it into discipline policies or promote it through extracurricular activities. This way, you’ll create a strong sense of going out of your way to promote this.

    Also, since one’s socio-emotional development is highly personal, it’s worth mentioning that the individual learning approach makes more sense than in other fields.

    Finally, you should never underestimate the importance of ongoing assessment and adaptation.

    Wrap up

    Ultimately, the key thing to remember is that this is a complex subject that cannot be taught traditionally. However, since the subject is so important and detrimental to one’s future development, more institutions must adopt it as a default. These topics are interesting on their own, and by making the curriculum dynamic and immersive, your students will never lack intrinsic motivation to learn.

    Elizabeth Windler
    Elizabeth Windler
    Elizabeth is a passionate freelance writer. Her research skills provide her with the ability to cover virtually any topic. But writing about history and civilizations, old and new is what she enjoys most. Always with a cup of coffee by her side.

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