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New Year's Resolution: Be a SEL Champion for Children

Maurice Elias

Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department and Edutopia Blogger

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!

Maurice Elias

Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department and Edutopia Blogger
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