Integrating Social Emotional Learning Into the Formative Development of Educator Dispositions

Integrating Social Emotional Learning Into the Formative Development of Educator Dispositions

Maggie Broderick, Amy E. Lyn
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4089-6.ch004
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Educator dispositions are a perpetual topic of interest and an ever-evolving construct but can be difficult to define. How a set of desired dispositions manifests within various teaching contexts and learning communities will continuously evolve with changing historical, social, and societal issues. This guiding conceptual framework will help teacher educators engaging in dispositional development and assessment. Drawing on social emotional learning (SEL), this chapter unpacks desired educator dispositions. Three guiding forces underscore the framework: dispositions toward one's inner world, dispositions toward learning, and dispositions toward human differences. It is imperative to address ongoing dispositional development meaningfully and thoroughly to nurture educator dispositions in teacher preparation programs and ongoing professional development. This chapter utilizes the three main guiding forces identified above to conceptualize a framework on the formative development of educator dispositions and to guide future research and practice.
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Educator dispositions are both a perpetual topic of interest and an ever-changing and evolving construct within the field of teacher preparation. Because dispositions are inherently human traits involving both interpersonal and intrapersonal qualities, they can be difficult to decisively define. Some educators may even think of dispositions as soft skills. Once defined to any degree, exactly how a set of desired dispositions manifests within various teaching contexts and learning communities will continuously evolve with changing historical, social, and societal issues. Different values can be emphasized as more relevant than others, and those values can manifest in myriad ways in a teacher’s classroom practice.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have helped to propel forward two related and significant issues in K12 schools, educational equity and social emotional learning (SEL). Dispositions relate directly to issues such as social justice education (Saultz et al., 2021), especially in today’s diverse schools and communities. A teacher’s personal identity, values, and other inherently human traits will naturally impact instructional approaches, teacher-student relationships, communication, and so much more. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) (CASEL, 2022) emerged in the mid-1990s and is a recognized organization for SEL research, advocacy, and resources for K12 schools. Introducing the concept of transformative SEL, Jagers et al. (2019) expanded upon CASEL’s five SEL competencies to explicitly connect “identity, agency, belonging, and engagement as transformative expressions” and necessary elements for promoting critically engaged citizenship (p. 167). In December 2020, CASEL redefined SEL, placing an emphasis on equity and excellence (Niemi, 2020):

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the 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.

SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.

We draw on this expanded definition of SEL in this chapter, building upon the ongoing work of Jagers et al. (2019). The first CASEL competency, self-awareness, includes identifying and understanding emotions, setting goals, knowing one’s values, and experiencing a sense of self-efficacy. This includes recognizing personal biases, connecting identity to personal and cultural values, and relating how one thinks, feels, and acts to diverse situations. Self management, the second competency, includes the ability to regulate emotions and behaviors, as well as cope with stress, practice agency, and be self-motivated to achieve individual and shared goals. The ability to emphasize and demonstrate compassion are aspects of the third competency, Social Awareness. This also includes understanding social norms in different settings and using a critical lens to take the perspective of those with histories, cultures, and lived experiences that may be the same or different than one’s own. The fourth competency, relationships skills, refers to initiating and maintaining healthy relations. This includes navigating diverse settings with varying cultural expectations and communicating effectively by engaging in clear dialogue, listening, collaborating, and negotiating conflict. The final competency is responsible decision-making, which requires critically assessing conditions for making choices that benefit collective well-being. This involves guiding decisions with a caring attitude and ethical responsibility to determine positive and negative consequences across diverse settings (Jagers et al., 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Awareness: An individual’s personal state of being conscious and aware of their own personal identity and ongoing growth.

Mentoring: Providing knowledge and guidance through an experience or learning process as the expert.

Mindfulness: An individual’s personal state of being conscious and aware.

Professional Development: Teacher training, development, and continued growth done in purposefully designed ways, such as workshops, ongoing mentoring/coaching, etc., at the in-service teacher level.

Accreditation: The official endorsement of programs in higher education by agencies, such as those involved in overseeing the quality of teacher preparation programs.

Culturally Responsive Teaching: The desire and willingness to relate to, communicate with, and affirm humans of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives other than one’s own, especially within the classroom and school setting.

Growth Mindset: An individual’s flexible and positive attitude toward various perspectives and continued learning and experiences (as opposed to a fixed mindset) , based on Dweck’s (2012) ongoing research and framework.

Emotional Intelligence: Interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that are the foundation of social emotional learning.

Teacher Preparation Programs: The training and educational programs, usually at universities, in which teachers learn the skills required for teaching in K-12 schools.

Coaching: Actively listening, questioning, and guiding another individual through an experience or learning process.

Dispositional Development: The ongoing process of an individual educator’s growth in what are commonly referred to as soft skills , in the interpersonal and intrapersonal realms, which relate to effective teaching practice.

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