Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is certainly not new, but if it wasn’t already, it is certainly now a top priority since the beginning of the pandemic. Students’ overall well-being has suffered, giving schools an extra challenge to deal with as instruction has returned to five days a week this school year.
One way Pioneer Middle School has addressed this challenge is by incorporating a program called Second Step. Second Step describes itself as “a holistic approach to building supportive communities for every child through social-emotional learning.” Started successfully in the district’s elementary schools during the 2018-19 school year, the middle school has embraced the program by incorporating Second Step Wednesday’s, where homebases are extended twice a month to allow for a particular SEL lesson to take place.
With vertically aligned and scripted lessons for teachers that are research-based and aligned to SEL standards, the program has thus far been a success. In addition, all teachers and students in the school are involved in the program allowing for common themes in each lesson to continually be supported and intertwined into instruction regardless of the class subject area.
But what exactly is Second Step? (https://www.secondstep.org)
Ultimately, the school will measure the success of the program by using the administration of a SEL screener, last given in April 2021, in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. The screener analyzes student responses to a number of questions to determine if the student is at normal, elevated, or extremely elevated risk. By utilizing the screener, those students who are identified as elevated or extremely elevated risk are given a second chance to get the support they need to succeed, support they may have previously not received had it not been for the Second Step program.
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development
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