As school districts around the region approached the start to another school year during an ongoing global pandemic, many leaders recognized that social emotional learning (SEL), must continue to be a priority within their schools. Like many other districts in the region, Cattaraugus Little Valley, designated time within their opening staff days to provide SEL support, tools, and resources to educators.
On August 31st, CLV faculty and staff gathered to kick off the school year learning about an SEL tool that fosters a supportive learning environment. It is especially important when talking and learning about social and emotional skills and SEL, that adults take the time to self-reflect. In doing so at CLV, the group embraced the understanding that SEL starts within each one of us. As human beings, we are social, we are emotional and many of our daily interactions demonstrate this notion. Whether or not we explicitly teach “SEL” within our classrooms, we are modeling skills constantly, for students. Individually, each participant took inventory of their own social and emotional skills and attitudes by completing the “SEL Self-Reflection,” and then further discussed their perspectives on how their own strengths and weaknesses may impact interactions that they have with students, colleagues, and families, daily.
One thing all educators at CLV walked away with, was a practical SEL tool that can be used in classrooms district wide, regardless of class size or grade level: The 3 Signature Practices of SEL. As the group discussed each of the three practices, many concluded that they were doing more SEL within their classrooms or learning environments than previously understood.
What are the 3 Signature Practices of SEL?
Welcome & Inclusion Activities: brief interactive experiences that increase connection and allow all voices in the room to be heard
Engaging Strategies: vary in complexity, include reflection and processing time and can include brain breaks or transition techniques
Optimistic Closure: an intentional closure of any learning experience, that can be done individually or collectively and allows for a sense of accomplishment and forward thinking
Not only did the group walk away with a better understanding of SEL and the 3 Signature Practices of SEL, but they were each given a copy of the 3 Signature Practices Playbook, as a resource. The playbook offers a structure to support thoughtfully selecting and facilitating these practices. In addition, it offers a connection to the research base as the foundation for each practice and outlines key SEL competencies and skills for each suggested activity.
By: Katie Mendell, CA BOCES Community Schools
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