Life is much simpler when you–as a parent or teacher–can point to one solution for a problem, solve it, and everything is golden. Success in school was like that when grades were the barometer and studying harder was the tool. Now, we know that academic achievement is much more complicated.
“Students are telling us there’s a big missing piece in their education” –John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic
Today’s educators realize it has as much to do with academics as how students get along with themselves and others. This is called “Social Emotional Learning” or SEL. It’s akin to the importance of play in teaching kids to socialize with others, develop tenacity, and learn respect for those around them. If you’re not convinced of the importance of SEL, here’s what students say:
“Students and young adults believe SEL schools would create a more positive social and learning environment” — report by the Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
A positive attitude about themselves and others is linked to not only academic success but positively correlated to lessening the negative impact of future-ending problems such as drug use. It should surprise no one that twenty-three states are now working on SEL standards.
Free Holiday Activities to Promote SEL
An emerging leader in SEL is Sunburst SafeSchools and their suite of products and curricula that focus on building safe and positive school environments. This holiday season, Sunburst is offering three free activities for parents and kids (click for the bundle of all three and page through for the one you want).
They’re fun, positive, supportive to kids, and–while based on Sunburst’s award-winning Safe School tools (Q Wunder, reThinkIt, and Mightifier)–designed as stand-alone activities rather than part of their comprehensive SEL-oriented curricula.
Q Wunder is an engaging SEL curriculum for preK – 4th grade that uses a gamified environment with both hands-on and digital components, such as a board game and an app. Topics range from grit and empathy to manners and motivation.
Holiday Hero (click link for the bundle of all three and page through to Holiday Hero–Q Wunder) teaches your child to be a Holiday Hero over the winter break! In this activity, kids practice problem solving around the holiday house and learn self-efficacy in a fun, enticing environment.
reThinkIt! for schools uses an engaging AI-powered chatbot to help students who have received a disruptive behavioral infraction. Through this personalized mentorship, students can tell their side of the story and Administrators can better understand their actions. Studies show that students provide five times more information on the reThinkIt intake than they would on a face-to-face interview. reThinkIt has been proven to increase daily attendance, decrease in-school suspensions, and improve school climate.
You can now try this home over the holidays with an empathetic activity (click and page through to this reThinkIt activity) that blends creativity, laughter, and thought as well as language skills, presentation skills, and group discussion to help kids enjoy the positive feeling of taking responsibility for their actions. It is inspired by “The Important Book” by Margaret Wise Brown with eleven very short poems describing simple items.
If you’re looking for behavior management options in your school, you should be looking at reThinkIt. As part of a school-wide reThinkIt program, schools receive powerful analytics to monitor safety indicators within their school campus, identify warning trends, flags “situations to watch” where targeted intervention could be appropriate, and synthesize key behavior trends. The result is a win-win for everyone: Students address disruptive behavior before it becomes critical and schools identify problems before they become crises. The most notable example was a Texas middle school, able to avert a potential shooting based on data from this program.
Mightifier delivers a complete positive school culture program by building a sense of belonging within students that forestalls problems associated with social isolation, low educational achievement, and psychological distress as adults. With Mightifier, students practice character strengths and social skills including teamwork, self-regulation, social intelligence, honesty, and compassion. Teachers receive insight into student social connectedness and school leaders receive actionable school wellness data.
To try this over the holidays at home, click and page through to the free activity, I want to give + a Secret friend.
Mightifier builds a positive school environment by using peer-to-peer feedback to build character, improve social skills, and buttress self-esteem–with a goal of decreasing bullying on the school campus (physical or virtual) and classroom restlessness. A piece I particularly like is the Mightifier Wellbeing Pulse where students answer quick questions about their well-being. These can be pre-populated or individualized by the school.
American poet, Maya Angelou, once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“ There is no more important step in educating our kids than the social and emotional piece of the puzzle.
–This is a sponsored post but I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.