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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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New Year's Resolution: Be a SEL Champion for Children

Maurice J. Elias

Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (www.secdlab.org), Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu)
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New Year's resolutions are often about our own personal well-being: diet, exercise, curbing bad habits, maybe being nicer. For 2012, try something a little different; resolve to be a SEL/SECD champion for children. What exactly does that mean?

Simply, it means putting the needs and rights of children first in your professional life. It means being less hesitant to speak up when you see policies that treat children unfairly or that result in inequality. It means saying something when staff members speak about children in front of other children. It means paying careful attention to whether parents really understand the explanations they are being given about their children or school policies and procedures -- and intervening when they do not.

As you might be starting to infer, it's actually not so simple being a champion for children. But this is what kids need. When I say SECD champion, I am not talking only about promoting kids' social-emotional and character development. I am talking about the SECD needed by adults to speak out against injustice, to point out subtle and not so subtle instances of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

We need to put first and foremost the dignity of the children who walk into our schools, expecting the best from the adults who are supposed to teach, care, and nurture them.

This is a New Year's resolution that will in fact last the entire year from the time you start it, and once you start it, you are likely to not turn back from it. It's one thing to carry out SEL and related programs. It's another to be a SEL/SECD champion for children. Happy New Year!

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Maurice J. Elias

Prof. of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (www.secdlab.org), Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu)

Comments (4) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Rusty May's picture
Rusty May
School counselor, Exectuive Director of the Bullying & School Safety Foundation and Creator of SchoolToolsTv.com

As usual, thank you for speaking up on this important topic and giving us useful ways to stay focused and involved.

KH's picture
Math Teacher/Char. Ed Chair

Many times when teachers do speak out about injustice, nothing gets done. Now with the new HIB law in NJ, students are aware that they can report teachers who are 'bullies' and guess what, something is now being done about it! Empowering students is so important.

Dr. Susan Stillman's picture

Thank you so much for your wisdom and ability to state these points, Maurice, with your amazing ability to inspire and lead. A great and meaningful New Year's Resolution!

One opportunity to learn how to be an SEL champion is to sign up for a Six Seconds SEL Educator Certification course. Six Seconds is a world leader in SEL and emotional intelligence, and we are focused on multiple solutions to help educators become SEL trained and able to lead their schools and communities in this critical work. Please see http://www.6seconds.org/2011/12/28/eq-educator-certification-phoenix-az-...
for our upcoming March 1-2 workshop in Phoenix, AZ or contact me at susan.stillman@6seconds.org
Happy New Year to all!

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