I recently received a book proposal on how best to incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) into student report cards. Oh, how excited I was to see something like this being proposed! And oh…I then thought…how many teachers will be dismayed by having more to teach and how many parents will be up in arms to see SEL assessed and graded!
We have been talking about the importance of teaching social skills and promoting positive student mental health for years and years, and yet still SEL is often not a part of the K-12 curriculum. Knowledge of what to do when we suspect what a child needs is often absent. Assessing a child’s progress in the area is difficult. And then we watch our television screen in horror when students mistreat their peers and adults, bring guns to school, and hurt themselves.
The advent of the Common Core provided an opportunity to further the discussion on the importance of SEL, yet it is conspicuously absent from the new standards. This is a controversial topic, I know—schools as replacements for what many think families should be doing. But we know that
- Students cannot learn if they do not feel safe
- Unless students feel as though they are a part of a community that accepts and nurtures them, they will never reach the academic milestones that we expect of them
- Kids really can’t reach Common Core milestones unless they are strong socially and emotionally, or in other words, can collaborate and problem-solve
As a parent of two pre-adolescent boys, I am never more proud than when I see them acting with kindness and compassion toward others. Getting high marks on a test is fine, even desirable, but is it as important as learning to be respectful and positive? How much better will our schools be for all if kindness and compassion were part of the curriculum?