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What is social-emotional support and why is it important for schools to have these in place for students

What is social-emotional support and why is it important for schools to have these in place for students

Increasingly, social-emotional support/social-emotional learning is being examined by educators and schools, as they wrestle with the challenge of preparing students to pass exams and coursework assignments while acquiring the skills and attributes that will allow them to succeed in the future. As students, you might find some common ground in how you wish you had been informed about why something was important as well as how mastering a subject or skill would benefit you both now and in the future.

What is social-emotional support?

Social-emotional support is a methodology that assists students of all ages in gaining a deeper understanding of their emotions, feeling those emotions fully, and demonstrating empathy towards others through social and emotional learning. It is then through these learned behaviours that students are able to make positive, responsible decisions, create frameworks to achieve their goals, and establish positive relationships with others.

Effective social and emotional support programs include coordinated classroom, school, family, and community practices that help students develop the following five core competencies:

  • ▪  Self-Awareness
    Acknowledging your emotions and how they affect your actions. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses so that you have confidence in your abilities.
  • ▪  Self-management
    Monitor and control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in different situations including delaying gratification, managing stress, controlling impulses, as well as setting goals and working towards them.
  • ▪  Social Awareness
    The ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone whose background or culture is not the same as yours. It includes understanding social norms of behaviour and acting empathetically and ethically at home, school, and in society.
  • ▪  Relationship Skills
    This skill focuses on the ability to build and maintain healthy relationships with people from different backgrounds, listen and communicate with others, resolve conflicts peacefully, and know when to ask for or offer help.
  • ▪  Responsible Decision Making
    Choosing how to make constructive decisions about personal behaviour and social interactions in different settings based on learned behaviours such as ethics, safety, and weighing consequences for others, and self. Why is it important for schools to have social-emotional support/ SEL in place for students As the world becomes more diverse, schools are becoming increasingly multicultural and multilingual, with students from a variety of socioeconomic and social backgrounds. Classrooms are often the first places where students encounter people who come from all walks of life, varied backgrounds, have different beliefs, and possess unique skills. Social-emotional support/ SEL works to compensate for these differences and ensure that every student has a

fair opportunity to succeed. It teaches students how to become more self-aware and gain a greater sense of empathy towards others in their community and the world around them by helping them better understand their thoughts and emotions. It is possible for students to develop these qualities in the classroom through classroom experiences that can help them become better, more productive, aware of themselves, socially aware citizens, and more aware of their social responsibilities outside of the classroom in the years to come.

Teacher practices such as positive student-teacher relationships allow teachers to model students’ social-emotional competencies and foster student engagement, which provide students with emotional support and provide opportunities for students’ voice, autonomy, and coping experiences to increase student engagement in the learning process. School management plays an important role in promoting school activities and policies and fostering a positive school environment, such as by creating a team to improve the indoor environment; modelling social and emotional competence; and developing clear standards, values, and expectations for students and staff.

Schools are one of the primary places where students learn social and emotional skills. An effective SEL program must have four elements represented by the acronym SAFE (Durlak et al., 2010, 2011):

1. Sequenced: connected, combined, and coordinated activities to foster skill development

2. Active: active forms of learning that help students acquire and master new skills 3. Focused: emphasizes the development of personal and social skills
4. Explicit: target specific social and emotional skills

In the long term, improved social and emotional capabilities are associated with higher chances of graduating from high school, readiness for post-secondary education, career success, better family-work relationships, better mental health, decreased crime rates, and can increase active citizenship.