Over the weekend, I participated with other administrators from my district in a great professional development experience around social emotional learning (SEL). With the talents of Miriam Miller and Dave Rawnsley, we moved from the theory through to concrete examples of how one might implement a policy around SEL. Programmes were not discussed, as it was the general policy and procedural site context that would necessitate the direction a school community might go. The amazing work that has been done at Byrne Creek around SEL is definitely one that should be shared. As the 2012 ASCD Whole Child in Action award winner, they have demonstrated what amazing things can come from our BC public education system when a group of professional, committed educators and community members come together.
Using a strategic philosophy around what SEL is, we moved from a perspective of the five domains, as used by Casel, we looked at the steps to implement a strong SEL policy that supports all learners/individuals in the school and community. It reminded me of both the concepts around Safe Schools here in BC and the ASCD’s Whole Child, as demonstrated by Byrne Creek Secondary School. Below is a graphic from Casel that demonstrates the five Core Competencies around SEL:
We looked at the domains and the concept that a safe environment is essential prior to embedded the curricular pieces of SEL into the classroom. With that safe environment, it became extremely important that the adults in the room also need to embrace their own Social Emotional Learning with empathy, respect and healthy relationships. This, I believe, is where the most work needs to focus: without caring, compassionate adults in the lives of students, any programme or policy around SEL will just ring hollow and end in disaster. I will be exploring this further, especially within my role as administrator-liaison to the Culture, Community and Connectedness working group within my school as we begin to watch our new school grow.