Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
To thrive in school, students need to be engaged, interested, and feel a sense of belonging and connection. They need to develop the skills of focusing attention on a task at hand, of being resilient when feeling discouraged or facing setbacks, of working respectfully and collaboratively with others, and of being effective communicators and problem-solvers. These skills form a foundation for academic success as well as broader preparation for the workforce they eventually will enter as adults (where 21st century skills are prized). Social and Emotional Learning teaches the skills we all need to handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies five interconnected competencies that teach children to calm themselves when angry, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices:
Self-Awareness: recognizing and managing our emotions
Social Awareness: developing empathy and understanding diverse perspectives
Relationship Skills: establishing healthy relationships
Responsible Decision-Making: making good choices
Self-Management: handling challenging situations constructively and ethically
For a closer look at the questions we strive to help students answer in each of these areas, see this article. These competencies mirror the characteristics defined in the Eanes ISD graduate profile; additionally, they are related to the required Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for positive character traits and personal skills in the strands of trustworthiness, responsibility, caring, and citizenship.
In Eanes ISD, social and emotional learning is embedded in our daily instructional practices and interactions with students. Efforts are overt and intentional in elementary school, becoming gradually more subtle and situational at the secondary levels.
At our elementary schools, the consistency of morning meeting supports social and emotional learning by encouraging connection and relationship skills, building self-confidence, as well as promoting social awareness and positive school culture. Teachers use the Second Step Elementary Digital Program to deliver SEL instruction, beginning with community building lessons and followed by units on growth mindset & goal-setting, emotion management, empathy & kindness, and problem solving (view the scope and sequence).
School counselors enrich Second Step curriculum through delivery of regular guidance lessons rooted in the competencies defined in the Texas Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs. Specific topics may vary across campuses and are based on survey data from needs assessments. They, along with the school-based therapists, also work with individual students to build skills and can deliver targeted group lessons upon a teacher’s request to address identified needs. Students identified as needing additional support building skills may also participate in small group sessions.
In the middle schools, social and emotional learning is embedded in content-area instruction where appropriate. Skill building may also be addressed during the advisory period. School counselors provide content on various topics through guidance lessons and use monthly themes to provide a focus for the campus. School counselors, along with the school-based therapist, also work with individual students to build skills and offer small group experiences that address identified needs. During the 2022-23 school year, Hill Country Middle School is piloting Leader in Me, which supports social and emotional development as well.
At the high school, social and emotional wellbeing is addressed largely through prioritizing relationships and positive daily interactions between students and staff. Teachers use classroom discussion as opportunities for students to further develop strategies that promote awareness of self and others, making good choices, and navigating complex interactions with peers and adults. School counselors and school-based therapists work with students individually to reinforce and support these competencies.