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Transcript of Presentation
Module: Social Emotional Learning
Important Point #1: What is Social Emotional Learning?
**When you hear social emotional learning, what do you think of? What do you know about SEL?
Take a few minutes now to write in your notebook what you know about Social Emotional Learning.
Ok, as I talk about this first point, think about and refer back to what you just wrote.
If you said that it is a part of ALL learning, you would be on the right track. Really, all learning is social and emotional for all human beings, but it’s best to be aware of it in a tutor/student relationship so that your teaching reflects empathy and valuing of your student’s personal experiences and past narratives. And branching out from that, your student brings cultural, societal, and global contexts into the learning environment that you should be aware of and sensitive to. In general, social emotional learning (SEL) can address inequities and empower people to work together to create healthy teacher/student relationships and contribute to thriving schools and communities.
CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based SEL, and has completed extensive research in this area. It defines SEL as “the process through which people acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”1
CASEL’s framework, updated in 2020, establishes five areas of competence which are helpful in thinking about SEL and creating healthy and equitable learning environments to better enhance student’s learning and development.
The CASEL 5: Core Competency Areas of Social Emotional Learning
● Self-Management- the ability to manage one’s own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations; to achieve goals and aspirations.
● Responsible Decision-Making- The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and varied social interactions across diverse situations.
● Relationship Skills- The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships; to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.
These competency areas can be taught and applied at various developmental stages from childhood to adulthood across diverse cultural contexts. It’s important to be aware of them as a tutor because of their impact on a student’s learning.
Important Point #2: The Benefits of SEL
Ok, for the next topic I’ll be discussing the benefits of SEL. In your notebook, for the next two minutes, write down what you think these benefits might be in relation to the learning process.
As I explain how advantageous SEL can be, refer back to what you wrote down to see if you learned anything new.
How do you think you own social and emotional awareness might enhance your learning? How might it enhance your student’s learning? What benefits might be seen in relationships, in schools, and in communities?
I don’t think anyone could argue that we would be better off without empathy, kindness, sharing, etc. But more than two decades of research has shown that there are other benefits to education that promotes SEL, including:
Self-awareness can be expanded to include the acknowledgement and understanding of social identities with regard to race, class, gender, nationality, and family structure. With this knowledge, students can open up in a learning situation, will more easily understand perspectives of others, and will relate more effectively with them. This is why it’s good for both tutors and students to be aware of and perhaps improve on their social and emotional intelligence.
Writing prompt: Looking back on your own experiences, write about how having a positive attitude towards yourself, others, and learning tasks helps in your acquisition of new or challenging knowledge.
Conversely, how does a negative attitude affect learning?
Important Point #3: The importance of empathy
In your notebook, take some time to write about your understanding of empathy. What is it? How would you rate your level of empathy? Is there room for improvement?
Again, as I talk more about empathy, look back on what you wrote to see if you expanded your understanding of empathy…
Empathy is one part of emotional intelligence. It’s helpful to better understand it in a tutor/ student relationship, especially to build trust, openness, and the desire to do one’s best in a learning situation. It requires us to see things from someone else’s point of view. Although empathy is usually developed as children, there are strategies that can be used to develop it further as adults, in order to strengthen one’s ability to teach and to learn. I will be talking about some strategies a little later.
There are three types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate.
To further build or improve your empathic responses, first, observe how you respond to other people in different situations. Think about ways you can increase empathy in your daily life. To help get you started, some ways to increase your level of empathy:
Observe empathy in action.
Give a written description of each type of empathy from your life, the news, or situations around you.
**(For in-person training) Role-play with a partner, demonstrating each type of empathy in hypothetical tutoring situations.
Important Point #4: Social and emotional competencies can be taught, modeled, and practiced.
As a child, do you remember learning, in some form, the social and emotional competencies from Important Point #1? Or did they just happen?
Both self-awareness and self-management belong to the intrapersonal domain. These skills may have been taught as children through tasks such as learning to control anger, set goals, take care of and organize personal space (like your bedroom or desk at school), etc. Social awareness and relationship skills lie in the interpersonal domain. We may remember being taught these skills starting in kindergarten (the phrase “works and plays well with others” on our report cards), and probably even before that, at home. Responsible decision-making overlaps both domains and relies on both self (personal behaviors) and others (social interactions). Young children are often told in school, “make good choices”, to encourage responsible decision-making.
As an adult, there are also strategies that can be used to enhance one’s social and emotional awareness, and also to help a student reach his/ her potential and work from a place of trust in your relationship. These include:
Some of these strategies could be helpful at the beginning of your tutor/student relationship as you get to know each other; others are appropriate at any time. Such emotional check-ins can take as few as 3-5 minutes and can create a safe space for learning to occur.
Practice a mindfulness activity for several days in a row. Write about how it felt and whether it helped with focus and learning.
Role-play: your student comes to class and is obviously upset about something. Describe how you would help him/her to recognize the emotion and work through it so that he/she can benefit from your teaching. Which strategy might you use?
Important Point #5: Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset
For the last topic, I will be explaining the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. Take a few minutes to think and write about the two terms and what you think you know about them.
Now, as I’m explaining this topic, again refer to what you wrote down. Did you learn anything new about this topic?
Think about a situation where you were having difficulty learning a new concept, or a subject in school, like math. Maybe you jumped right to “I can’t understand this! I’m no good at math!”. Do you think this type of reaction might affect your ability to grasp the concept?
Here’s where growth vs. fixed mindsets come into play in a learning situation. A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop your talents and abilities through hard work, good strategies, and help from other people. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that talents and abilities are unalterable traits and can’t be improved upon. It’s important to be aware of these two mindsets in the tutoring process, both in yourself and in your student.
We are all a mixture of both mindsets; sometimes growth and sometimes fixed, according to what we perceive as threats, like challenges, mistakes, failures, or criticisms. Are we inspired to try new things, or are we anxious and defensive in the face of new challenges? We need to observe ourselves as educators and find what triggers anxiety and makes us put up barriers on ourselves.
A growth mindset has a profound effect on student’s motivation and learning. It can be taught; research has shown how the brain changes with learning. Neurons grow stronger connections when you work on hard things. But people experiencing a fixed mindset may be more resistant to working on new or difficult material. This can become a crucial issue with adult learners especially; their tendencies and mindsets are more ingrained.
But with your student, watch out for adopting a “false growth mindset”, which is when educators praise effort alone. For example, a tutor might frequently say “great effort!” when the student isn’t really learning or progressing. Telling the student that “you can do this”, or “you can do anything!” is a hollow promise. Instead, acknowledge when your student is not learning effectively, and then work with them to find new learning strategies. Set high but attainable standards and work with him/her on how to start on the path to meet these standards. It is the educator’s job to create a growth mindset environment by giving the students meaningful work, honest and helpful feedback, and advice on future strategies, and opportunities to revise their work and show their learning.
Imagine that one of your student’s goals is to improve his/her computer skills. As you start teaching this skill, you find that your student is reluctant to try new things. He/she exhibits a fixed mindset by saying, “I’ve never been good at computers!”.
Role-play as a tutor in this situation, and write about what you might do or say to foster a growth mindset in this student. (Try to exhibit small, attainable steps, honest feedback, and tasks related to student’s hypothetical interests.)
In summary, what we should remember about SEL is that the approach to it should be one of creating more equitable and authentic learning environments and outcomes. It is helpful for educators to develop their own self-awareness, social-emotional intelligence, and cultural awareness so that we can create and nourish safe and healthy learning environments for our students.