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WINGS SET-ting SEL for a Broader Impact
Posted by 108f on January 09, 2017 · Flag
With research clearly revealing that when taught as explicitly as traditional curriculum, such as reading, math and science, social and emotional learning (SEL) increases academic achievement, school attendance, reduces delinquent behavior and nurtures empathy, so it should come as no surprise that WINGS kids are taking what they’ve learned back into the classroom. When that happens a paradigm shift occurs in the relationship between student and teacher. Students are able to articulate and express thoughts with clarity and with composure. They are more likely to have healthy dialogues with teachers, who are more empathetic and supportive; and likewise. Perhaps that’s why so many school districts nationwide have adopted some aspect of social and emotional pedagogy as part of their curricula studies.
In fact the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the nation’s leading organization advancing the development of academic, social and emotional competence for all students, is currently working to strategically implement SEL into school culture and curricula in ten states across the nation. This is particularly important in districts, largely urban, where students traditionally have mistrust of educators, law enforcement and many others due to historical societal messages and/or stereotypes that portray the world as unjust, let alone their own personal experiences. This lack of trust and in some cases, respect, multiplies when a child experiences domestic dysfunction, abuse, neglect, homelessness and the like. This shouldn’t be surprising to any of us.
While positive peer interactions are extremely important for children it is the quality of the student-teacher interaction that has the greatest impact and must be the focus of intervention. Teachers who espouse a classroom culture promoting caring, safety, trust, and respect have lower degrees of conflict with students; and those students experience stronger social competence, attendance, school adjustment and security. All of these factors create a culture where students want and strive to learn. Children, by their very nature, want attention – good or bad, ask any parent. If a child does not get positive attention, then he/she will seek out negative attention which creates a perpetual cycle of failure. At WINGS, we change the dynamics so students feel supported, heard, trusted, respected and cared for, which ultimately opens the door for them to mirror this behavior. We place a strong emphasis on catching students in the act of doing and/or demonstrating positive things or behaviors. We then recognize them specifically for that positive behavior(s), which we in turn incentivize to encourage an ongoing positive culture.
Inevitably, children begin to enjoy seeing themselves as being helpful, valued, respected and considered good, and seek out opportunities to receive positive, not negative, attention. This paradigm shift is powerful and absolutely doable! It all begins first with adult skills and practices. Adults must first comprehend and internalize emotional intelligence competencies before they can transfer these skills in their role as educator, mentor, and role model. We then focus on developing the intentional adult practices staff use to foster a supportive and engaging learning environment. Recognizing the need to commingle cognitive and non-cognitive skills to set students on a path toward academic success and social and emotional dexterity, WINGS is rolling out its “Set to Soar” program to broaden our impact by helping others adopt our proprietary approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) in other non-profits through affiliate relationships and in school districts through teacher professional development.
In Charlotte, we have a wonderful opportunity to expand our impact, particularly with SEL igniting the field of education across the nation as a proven evidence-based model for achieving academic success coupled with our 20 years of experience and a model that is demonstrating strong, evidence-based outcomes with low-income youth in a RCT evaluation. The next few years for WINGS in Charlotte will be a period of both growth and learning, as the organization seeks to strengthen its after school sites at Bruns Academy and Walter G. Byers Elementary School while developing a continuum of multiple delivery models, including identification of a third school site, that show both demonstrated impact on SEL.
Stay tuned for more information about how to SET SEL with WINGS in Charlotte!
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