California Educator

November / December 2016

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Page 22 of 59

Helping the whole child Expressing feelings, processing emotions and learning coping skills are part of social-emotional learning (SEL), a popular trend in schools. It's a shift from No Child Left Behind, which many experts believe tested children relentlessly at the expense of their social and emotional needs. Sometimes called character education, SEL helps students acknowledge that everyone experiences a range of emotions, and gives students the tools to cope and self-regulate when fac- ing conflicts. Students learn how to get along with others, be empathetic, show kindness, and share responsibility for others' well-being, which helps to reduce the chances that students will be bullied or become bullies. Research shows that SEL makes a difference. According to a 2011 analysis published in Child Development of 213 SEL programs involving 270,000 K-12 students, participants in SEL programs showed a significant increase in pos- itive social behavior and an 11-percentile-point increase in academic achievement, compared with nonparticipants. CTA is part of the stakeholder team on the Col- laborating States Initiative, a multistate effort of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emo- tional Learning to identify programs and practices that promote student SEL competencies. CTA and California are interested in, among other things, the collaborative's focus on school cli- mate and student engagement — priorities of the state's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) — and the value that teachers see for students in developing SEL skills at school and beyond. (See related LCFF story on page 42.) ere's no one-size-fits-all approach. Schools use a variety of strategies and programs. Counselors may visit classrooms to provide lessons, or educators may embed academic lessons with interpersonal and problem-solving skills. With a focus on the "whole child," SEL is based on the premise that students can best achieve their academic potential when they learn to manage their emotions. "Let's say students are working on a math problem and feel frustrated because they don't know how to do it," says Oakland Education Association teacher Jaymie Sacramento leads social- emotional learning exercises. At Pioneer Elementary School in Union City, A'kaiyah Basey, Ethan Puebla and Camila Soto are asked to make "happy" faces. 21 November / December 2016

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