Overcoming Educational Challenges Through Social and Emotional Learning: Significance for the Whole Child

Overcoming Educational Challenges Through Social and Emotional Learning: Significance for the Whole Child

Laurel Miltenberger (National University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1177-0.ch001
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The purpose of the chapter is to examine the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) when supporting K-12 students in academic learning for success. Components of SEL such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making will be covered. A brief look at emotional intelligence is incorporated in the contents as well. The author provides evidence-based reasons why teaching SEL is beneficial for K-12 student success in numerous aspects of their educational career. Not only K-12 students be the focus of implementing SEL, but the teacher's role in implementing SEL in the classroom is explored. Various skills taught in SEL is discussed in detail as well as the impact of SEL at various grade levels.
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What is Social and Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning education is broad in scope. According to The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL, 2019), social and emotional learning includes the following competencies: self -awareness, self- management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. The goal is to help our students become knowledgeable, responsible, and caring. Elias, Zins, Weissberg, Frey, Greenberg, Haynes, Kessler, Schwab-Stone, and Shriver (1997), explain that, ”Social and emotional competence is the ability to understand, manage, and express the social and emotional aspects of one’s life in ways that enable the successful management of life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, solving everyday problems, and adapting to the complex demands of growth and development” (p.2). Essentially, social and emotional learning is important for life. According to Elias, Ferrito, & Moceri (2016), “SEL refers to a set of skills that are important elements of everyday life and are present and relevant from infancy to old age: recognizing and managing emotions, developing empathy and concern for others, establishing effective relationships in one-on-one and group contexts, making responsible and ethical decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively” (p.4).

When considering the emotional skills component of SEL, understanding the concept of emotional intelligence is essential. Emotional Intelligence refers to skills “which include self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself” (Goleman, p.xxii). The Five Factors associated with emotional intelligence as: Self Awareness, Managing emotions, Self motivation, Recognizing the emotions of others- Empathy, and Handling relationships (Goleman, 2006). To further explain, Goleman (2006), states that emotional intelligence includes, “abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping one’s ability to think; to empathize and hope” (p. 34). There are two types of intelligence, rational and emotional, and, according to Goleman (2006), “intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence” (p.28). Academic performance can be enhanced or inhibited by the state of one’s emotions, therefore, it is essential that skills that enhance a student’s emotional well-being are integrated into learning.

Social Intelligence is well researched and is clearly explained. The social intelligence model emerged from research in the field of emotional intelligence. According to Daniel Goleman (2006), “The ingredients of social intelligence…can be organized into two broad categories: social awareness, what we sense about others- and social facility, what we do with that awareness” (p.84). Social awareness includes primal empathy, attunement, empathic accuracy, and social cognition. Social facility includes: synchrony (interacting smoothly at the nonverbal level), self-presentation, influence, and concern (Goleman, 2006). People are “wired” for social interactions. In the educational setting, students are situated in social settings in which social awareness and social facility skills can be advantageous. Goleman (2006) states that, “Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person” (p.4). It is further explained that, “Mother-infant synchrony operates from a child’s first day of life; the more synchrony, the warmer and happier their overall interactions” (Goleman, 2006, p.166). This foundational research clearly identifies the skills associated with social intelligence that are important for healthy relationships in all aspects of life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Holistic Approach: Refers to educating the whole person regarding intellectual, social, emotional, mental, physical, and creative potential.

Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS): An integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on all students’ academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs through multi-tiered support systems. It grew out of RTI and PBIS (positive behavior interventions and supports).

Whole Child: An approach of education that takes into consideration the development of cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. It supports practices in which the child will be provided healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged environments.

Response to Intervention (RTI): A framework used to help students that includes three tiers of support including: whole class, small group interventions, and intensive interventions.

Social Skills: Skills that are used to communicate both verbally and nonverbally through gestures, body language, and personal appearance. Social skills are the abilities necessary to get along with others to create and maintain relationships.

Horizontal Integration: Alignment of instruction and assessment of skills across a particular grade level.

Whole Systems Thinking: A method to understand how elements and systems are related, and how they influence each other within the whole.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): The process through which students learn and understand how to manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Vertical Integration: Alignment of instruction and assessment in which one lesson, course, or grade level expectation prepares the student for the subsequent lesson, course, or grade level in the progression of learning skills.

Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It is the process of adapting well during adversity and stressful situations. One can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude.

Universal Intervention: Instructional strategies and supports provided to all students.

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