More than ever before, our country needs schools that will prepare today’s youth for the challenges and opportunities they face, youth who will become knowledgeable, responsible, and caring citizens and leaders for the future. An outstanding education prepares students to be strong in a wide range of academic disciplines. This essay focuses on Social Emotional Learning and how to implement and sustain it within schools so that students can achieve greater academic success.
Schools share the desire to engage young people in their education so that they will be prepared to succeed in both school and life. The Catholic Education Office of Melbourne has released a research document in Social Emotional Learning assisting schools in helping their students to become confident, knowledgeable and active citizens for the future. Schools that encourage Social Emotional Learning by implementing programs such as the Bounce Back! A Classroom Resilience Program reap important rewards for their students, including greater academic success, fewer problem behaviours, and improved relationships between students and significant people in their lives.
What is Social and Emotional Learning?
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) refers to the process by which children and adults develop the fundamental social and emotional competencies essential to success in school and in the workplace (CEOM. 2007). Skills that we develop through Social Emotional Learning include recognising and managing emotions, caring for others, making good decisions, behaving ethically and responsibly, developing positive relationships, and avoiding negative behaviours (Elias et al. 1997).
In the school learning context, Social Emotional Learning is the process for integrating thinking, feelings and behaviour to achieve necessary skills to safeguard against bullying, peer pressure, disrespectful behaviour toward adults, dangerous risk-taking around sex, drugs, and alcohol and engaging with violence – all those negative behaviours that threaten a child’s well-being and ability to become productive, contributing members of society (QLD GOV. 2007).
Benefits of Social Emotional Learning
Students with social skills and emotional awareness do better both socially and academically. ‘When added to academic learning, Social Emotional Learning provides educators with a model for providing the balance that children need (Elias, 2006)’. They become attached to school and motivated to engage in their studies, work well with other children and demonstrate good citizenship, and handle both stresses and daily responsibilities more effectively. Social Emotional Learning can significantly improve classroom climate and morale of teacher and students (Elias, 2006).
Children who have positive Social Emotional Learning experiences acquire a set of beliefs, attitudes, values and social skills that enhance the protective factors that encourage healthy behaviours (Griffiths, 2005). Social Emotional Learning can significantly increase the capacity of all students to become ‘knowledgeable, responsible, caring, productive, non-violent and contributing members of society (Zins et al. 2003).’
Many schools are already engaged in promoting and implementing aspects of Social Emotional Learning. There is a need, however, to recognise and sustain those elements of the school environment that support Social Emotional Learning and to improve the aspects which do not. The most effective approach to the development of Social Emotional Learning is one that has as its focus the total school environment. ‘Learnings take place when they are embedded in the wide range of experiences and aspects of school life, they then promote emotional and social wellbeing for all who work and learn in schools (CEOM. 2007).’
The Catholic Education Office of Melbourne developed a research document to support schools and in particular Student...