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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Social and Emotional Learning 101

Emotional intelligence must be developed in children before any other learning can effectively take place. Read a short introductory article or watch an in-depth video.
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Man 1: How many of you know a boy or girl here at school who gets picked on and left out and never included and laughed at all the time?

Narrator: School can be a mean and dangerous place.

Man 1: Raise your hands high, high.

Narrator: Evidenced by headline grabbing tragedies and subtle daily slights.

Student 1: Gina, why don't you shut up?

Who cares what you think?

Narrator: Fortunately, there is growing consensus that teaching social and emotional skills in school can make a difference.

Teacher 1: We're gonna use it as a tool to help us solve problems.

Narrator: And there are a number of programs, like Resolution Conflict Creatively, that teach those schools.

Teacher 1: -- to the room and said, "You're gonna wear those old rages to school?"

Linda Lantieri: We are talking about a whole new vision of education that says that educating the heart is as important as educating the mind.

And so it's about equipping young people with the kinds of skills they need to both identify and manage their emotions, to communicate those emotions effectively, and to resolve conflict nonviolently.

Student 2: It's mine.

Student 3: No, it's mine.

Narrator: As part of a school wide effort to create a positive environment, fourth graders at Brooklyn's PS Twenty Four act as peace helpers, teaching younger students how to handle conflicts.

Alexus: When the peace helpers were helping solve the conflict, what did you see the peace helpers do?

I'm still learning, 'cause if I go into sixth grade next year, I need to learn how to control my anger, 'cause I have a serious temper problem.

Daniel Goleman: Emotional intelligence is just a key human skill, but it also turns out that kids who are better able to manage their emotions, for example, actually can pay attention better, can take in information better, can remember better. In other words, it helps you learn better.

Narrator: Benefits of social emotional learning programs include improved academic performance and attitudes towards school, a reduction in violence, bullying and other negative behaviors, and an improved school environment for children and adults.

Teacher 2: We're just seeing great behavior, so--

Narrator: As part of a district wide mandate, schools in Anchorage, Alaska, have adopted comprehensive social emotional learning curriculum standards.

Vickie Blakeney: I'm a curriculum coordinator, so I am seen in the same office as the language arts coordinator, the math coordinator, the health coordinator, et cetera, to show just visually, politically, everything else, that we are gonna value this like we value any of our other curricula. A lot of my job is to look at the already adopted curriculum and say, "Okay, here's a place where, if I was teaching this reading lesson, I could also hit this social emotional learning center at the same time."

Teacher 2: What are some of the cool headed thoughts he could have?

Michael Graham: We're all under the gun to improve our test results, the academics, but it's a whole lot more fun to start focusing on that connection with kids and helping people feel good about where they are. The other will follow. Our teachers, I think, are much happier. They like their kids.

Teacher 2: Good job, kiddo. Excellent.

Practice being cool headed this weekend.

Vickie Blakeney: There's research out now that shows that kids involved in intentional social emotional programs, like we're trying to do right here, scored on average ten percent higher on their standardized tests. So what are we giving up? We're giving up, you know, higher referrals, we're giving up violence in our schools.

What are we getting? Kids who come to school because they wanna come to school, and kids who know how to act when they get into the schools. And hopefully, kids who will go into their futures with a better chance at success.

Student 1: Gina, I would like to keep on being friends.

Teacher 1: And freeze. All right, yeah. Nice job.


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Editor's Note: Linda Lantieri, featured in this video as the co-founder of Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP), is now director of the Inner Resilience Program and a program consultant with CASEL. (Read an interview with Lantieri about defusing stress in children.)

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