Edutopia Webinar: Social and Emotional Learning
Making a Case in a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) World
Release Date: 2/25/10
February 25, 2010:"Social and Emotional Learning: Making a Case in an NCLB World"
Host: Grace Rubenstein, senior producer, Edutopia
Presenters: Tim Shriver, Chairman of the CASEL Board of Directors, Sheldon Berman, superintendent, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky, and Kati Delahanty, English teacher, Charlestown High School, Boston
Target audience: Educators in the elementary and secondary grades interested in evidence for the value of social and emotional learning and practical ideas for implementing it
Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important -- there's no doubt of that. But it takes more than those basic academic skills for students to grow into happy, successful adults.
As educators know well, children also need to learn self-esteem, self-discipline, and strong communication skills in order to succeed in school and life. But it's easy for those essential lessons to get lost in the race to raise standardized test scores.
In this session, two pioneering educators and a national education leader explain why social and emotional skills deserve time and attention -- SEL has been shown to raise test scores -- and how they provide it effectively in their schools. Learn more at the webinar's resource page.Download the presentation (PowerPoint 27 MB).
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Grace: Welcome, everyone, to Edutopia's first webinar of twenty ten. We're pleased that so many of you are joining us to day to learn more about social emotional learning which, even though it may not be considered a core academic subject in the traditional sense, I think we can all agree is incredibly important for helping kids succeed. In fact, so many people think it's important that we have had over three hundred people log on before this webinar even started, so that really says something about the degree to which people are passionate about this subject. I'm Grace Rubenstein, senior producer for Edutopia and I'll be your host.
We're excited to have a trio of great speakers today: Kati Delahanty, a teacher at Charlestown High School in Boston will share the great work she's doing with social emotional learning in her own classroom. Superintendent Sheldon Berman will then explain how he has put similar best practices to work across his entire district in Louisville, Kentucky. And finally, Timothy Shriver, chairman of the board of CASEL and also chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics will put this effort in a national context and explain why social emotional learning is especially important now and what you can do to help. We'd like to thank CASEL as well as Wings for Kids, the Committee for Children, the Center for Social and Emotional Education and San Jose State University for their support in promoting this webinar.
Before we get started, just a few housekeeping items. If you're having any technical trouble, problems seeing the screen or logging in, please call one eight hundred-- sorry about the audio feedback there. One eight hundred, two six three, six three one seven. Second, we'll be taking your questions throughout the webinar and we'll take a few breaks for Tim and Shelly and Kati to answer them both during their presentations and after their presentations. As participants, you'll be muted throughout the webinar, but we strongly encourage you to submit your questions using the question pane. You'll find that on the right hand side of your screen. Just type your question in and hit submit and as a best practice, we do ask that you include your name, your title and your location with your question. So we'll answer as many questions as we can during the time we have, and you can also follow us on Twitter through hash tag Edutopia webinar. Third, if you're interested in following along with the presentation on paper, you can download the slides at Edutopia.org/webinar-february. And lastly, the webinar is being recorded and you'll be getting an email with a link to an archive of that recording right after the webinar. So with the housekeeping items out of the way, let's get started.
Welcome to this Edutopia webinar on social emotional learning. These professional development webinars are designed to connect you with leaders in education reform and also really to empower you to help spread the best innovations in education to your schools and communities and states. I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you that the testing culture that dominates our public schools these days is creating a kind of frantic focus on basic academics, math, reading, writing, et cetera. But every teacher and every parent, and probably everyone who remembers what it was like to be a kid, knows that sometimes the non academic lessons are the ones that stick with you the longest and make the biggest impact on your life. So as essential as core academic skills are, if we emphasize those over everything else, our students may miss out on some critical lessons for becoming self aware, self disciplined people who can interact and communicate effectively.
Now it might seem like those kinds of social emotional skills aren't something that can be taught. People may think either you're born with these skills or you're not, but they actually can be taught. And today's speakers are going to tell you how they have succeeded in doing just that. In fact, there's emerging evidence that teaching social emotional skills makes students not only more successful personally, but also more successful academically as students, and you'll hear more about that data from Tim.
So just before we start, let's check in with all of you about the settings that you are working in. We're going to launch a quick poll here which you should see on your screen, asking you how much are social and emotional skills already emphasized at your school? Are they formal or informal? School-wide, district-wide? And are they kind of add on programs, or are they integrated into all the things that you do? So while you're filling that out, just a quick reminder to please send us your questions. We'll answer as many as we can during this session. Just use that question pane on the right hand side of your screen. And if you want to download the PowerPoint to follow along, that's at Edutopia.org/webinar-February. Hopefully you have mostly answered the questions by now and we should be getting the results of that poll momentarily. All righty, so from your answers, it looks like the vast majority of you are seeing social emotional learning being done in your schools informally. It's kind of teacher by teacher depending on who's passionate about it. There's a handful, about thirty percent, who have it school-wide, and a very small number, nine percent, doing it district-wide. Fortunately, we'll hear more from Shelly Berman shortly about he's making that happen district-wide in Louisville. So I'll just remind you that social emotional learning is a core concept of Edutopia's, and that means that you can find a lot of stories and resources and videos on this topic on our website. I'm showing you here our core concept page on social and emotional learning, and we've also recently published an in depth set of coverage on Shelly Berman's district, the Jefferson County Public Schools, as part of our Schools at Work series. So be sure to stay tuned until the end of the webinar, because we are going to be drawing the names of three lucky attendees to win our newest Edutopia DVD on this district, Jefferson County. You can also find our videos on iTunes and YouTube, and we created a YouTube playlist specifically spotlighting our best videos on social and emotional learning. So we hope that this webinar arms you with some very practical skills that you can take back to your school or district, and also with some strong arguments that you can take to administrators or parents or community members to say, "Hey, listen, this social and emotional learning really does make a difference." Now this discussion is only the beginning. We'll continue the conversation in our social emotional learning discussion group at Edutopia.org/groups/SEL. And in fact, weeks ago, we asked that same Edutopia community group to share their questions about social and emotional learning and you will find their responses, their questions and their input incorporated into this presentation today.
So our first speaker is Kati Delahanty. She's a graduate of the Boston teacher residency and now mentors new teachers in the residency program. She teaches at Charlestown High in the Boston Public Schools, where she's working with colleagues to develop a social justice curriculum that will use project based learning to effect change in students' own neighborhoods. She's a member of our own George Lucas Educational Foundation's national advisory council and actually, at our last meeting here, she really impressed a lot of us with her presentation on how she has woven social and emotional learning into her own English classes. I expect she's going to probably do just the same for you, so let's welcome Kati. Kati, if you're here, you can take it away.
Grace: Great, we can hear you.
Kati: All right, so hello everybody. Thanks for letting me share today. Do you see it? Hello? Okay. So thanks for that intro, Grace. I'm thrilled to share today because S-- powerful part of my work. My students have very full lives outside of school. Eleven of my students this year are parents. All of them have major out of school responsibilities and they're all actively trying to figure out who they are, and that's really, really hard to do. And I feel like it's my job to make sure that they feel respected, supported and valued every day, because many teenagers don't experience those feelings enough outside of school. And when they don't feel that way, they aren't learning as much as they can.
Just to give some background, I've never taken a course on SEL, but I've tried a lot of things and I've learned a lot from mentors and colleagues, so I'm going to share with you tonight what works for me. This is my fifth year at Charlestown High School, which is split up into four small learning communities, which are--. This year I'm teaching in a small alternative learning community that serves overaged and under credited students who are coming back after dropping out or are re-engaging with school. Overall at CHS, thirty percent of students are behind at least one grade in at least one subject. There are wonderful things going on in our building every day, but our reality is that we have major issues with attendance and students being tardy, and just not coming to school. My goals, as far as SEL go, are to help my students become-- people, to create a learning environment where students feel safe to learn, to ask questions and to be themselves, and to teach my students how to learn together and work collaboratively.
Why SEL? Low self esteem and a lack of self discipline-- possibly hard. I really believe that learning doesn't happen in isolation. Students need to get good at working and learning together. And when students and teachers respect each other, everyone in the classroom learns more. So I thought I would talk about what works for me, and the team of teacher-- I'll talk about SEL in the classroom and how we talk to students in our rituals and in how we react to harm.
First off, I always have my room arranged in groups, because it forces the students to figure out how to be together all of the time. There are certain things I do day to day that have really worked well and the students have mentioned them in their reflections. Students change their seats every week. They choose a table card each Monday randomly. This way, they work with everyone frequently and in different configurations. Instead of verbally interrupting them when they're working together, I'll raise my hand silently, and they know to finish up quickly. By getting their attention this way, I'm modeling how to interrupt politely, and I'm acknowledging that it's not all about me and what I want. They deserve to finish what they're saying and what they're doing. I have them get up and meet with different partners for quick chats or quick check ins, or, you know, to turn and talk all the time. And after each time they do that, I make them shake hands and look at each other in the eyes and say, "Thank you, So and So, for making me smarter." At first they think it's hilarious and silly, but it becomes a part of what we do and it makes their conversations more professional and more serious. Another thing I want to mention is that we learn and share about other cultures and races and ethnicities often. It's incredibly important to build community so that each person in the community feels valued. And finally, when someone shares his or her voice in class, every student, I make sure that they turn and shift their body towards that person who's speaking, and they drop their pen or their pencil, so that we're totally focusing on the student sharing in order to practice active listening every single day, a lot of times, in each class period.
One thing that has worked well for me is explaining my reasoning behind what I ask students to do so that it doesn't come across like I'm the boss on a power trip, you know, just barking out orders. It really shows them why what I'm asking them to do is important, and they comply really easily because they understand why. They don't feel like I'm just telling them what to do. They feel a part of the process. Another way to model respectful behavior is to try not to embarrass students, and one way to do this is to communicate with them privately and in subtle ways. So if a student walks in late to class, instead of stopping and announcing, "You're late," in front of everyone, which everybody knows because they saw that person come in late anyway, I'll drop a Post-It note to communicate that I noticed and that I'm expecting an explanation later. This works really well to build self esteem and to motivate students also, because I'll often drop Post-It notes telling students that I notice the impressive things they're doing and to recognize when they help their classmates, or when they go out of their way for someone else.
As a small learning community, we have a few rituals that we design to s-- both academically and socially and emotionally. The ritual that I think has the biggest impact is what we call circles and circles are a way of group that really focuses on listening. So we sit in a circle and we use a talking piece to structure our conversation. So the person with the talking piece at any moment is the only person talking. I do them all the time in my class as far as like I weave it into the curriculum, but we also do them every week as a whole unit to build community. So with all of the students in my small learning community, so it's across grades ninth through twelfth. We use them as an alternative to suspension hearings. We use them preemptively to work on student to student relationships, or student to teacher relationships. We use them to talk about issues as a staff. Some of the topics this year have been bullying, language, truths and lies, racism, bystanders and upstanders, hate crimes and there's a ton more. Most students really love value and need circle. There are a few, though, who don't like it or who don't feel comfortable with it and I just want to be upfront about that. Some cultures really value privacy and I've had students say that they have been taught to always keep emotions to themselves, or that it is disrespectful to look someone in their eyes when they're sharing personal things about themselves. So I make sure that they know from the beginning that they can pass in circle. The idea is that each person should share as little or as much as they feel comfortable doing. I've given students the option to not participate, but they have always wanted to still be a part of it. And even if they just pass when the talking piece comes to them, just holding that talking piece and passing it to the next person, it still connects them to the whole group. And it's clear to me, you know, based on how they interact with their classmates outside of circle, that they've been listening.
So a quick look at how circles work. They're rooted in a Native American tradition. We use a talking piece, so whoever's keeping the circle, or whoever's in charge of, you know, introducing each round, they bring in objects that mean something to them, because it just adds-- it just sort of makes each circle special. We open and close circle together, using either a poem or a piece of student writing that's relevant to what we're talking about that day. We always pass to the left. And we come up with community agreements at the very beginning, and these are things that we've all said that we need to feel respected and heard when we're in circle. So, you know, be open minded, respect confidentiality, honor the talking piece. And every time we're in circle, the very first round is each person re-agreeing to honor these community agreements. We have a conference with each student each-- and the entire staff meets with the student. The student speaks first and he or she drives the discussion and reflection. We use them to reflect on what's working and what's not working so well, and we use goals and next steps. And the students have said that they really feel like they're heard in these conferences and they feel important, because to have sacred time with every single one of your teachers who are in that moment, completely focused on you and your learning alone is, they've said, really powerful.
So every week, we have a whole unit circle to sort of build community and create that safe space for everybody. And the very last round of these whole unit circles are shout outs. So when you get the talking piece, you honor someone else in the community who has impressed you or helped you or challenged you or pushed your thinking in some way that week, and the students always leave feeling really good about that. We also do a lot of chants and calling response. We also have, you know, beats that we make on our laps and with our feet that the students really love and feel unified by. They come up with them and it's a good way for us to reaffirm what we believe in as a community and what, you know, our goal is, to make sure that each person, you know, really feels connected. And I think it really is a part of what keeps people coming, keeps them coming every day.
One of the things we've done to get them goal setting is-- if they want to be, is we had them fill out a certificate for the future for this June and we had them-- it could be about whatever they wanted to be recognized and appreciated for. So some examples are, in recognition of and appreciation for being the most sophisticated writer, for perfect third and fourth term attendance, for helping the most people graduate. So while some were really all about academics, there were also a lot who wanted to be recognized for who they are as people. We also did a thing where we had them, you know, take Post-It notes and we all went around and wrote one positive thing about each stu-- we got back into circle and they really just felt like people noticed them, the good things that they were doing. And how we react to harm, instead of just talking about what rule was broken and who broke it and how they should be punished, we really focused on who has been harmed and what that person needs to move forward and who's responsible for making it right. And I just want to say quickly, instead of just a bunch of hearings, we often do them in circle and the students have to spend a full hour holding themselves accountable for what they did and how they're going to repair it in their community. And it's really, I think, had a big impact on our entire unit and on how people treat each other.
So finally, I just want to show you the impact it's had on my teaching and on my students. This is Jonathan, and he just got his first a hundred percent a couple of weeks ago. And when I asked him, you know, what it was about this year where he felt like, you know, he's doing much better in school and he said because he feels like people want him here and that he's needed. Improved attendance, I took fifteen of my students randomly and averaged their attendance percentages from last year at this point and this year, and it's gone up a lot. And they say it's because, you know, again, they feel committed and they feel unified to a community. The MCAS is our high stake exam and these are just my scores. These aren't the school scores. And I just wanted to share them because in oh seven, oh eight, I had eighty-five percent of my students pass the MCAS and last year, a hundred percent of my tenth graders passed the test. And I think, I truly believe that SEL is the reason for that improvement, because my tenth graders last year, I had them the year before as ninth graders, so we had two solid years to really build this type of community and create a space where they were pushing each other and they felt comfortable and they were, you know, really finding a way to get it done, and I truly believe that's what made the difference.
So finally, I'll just leave you with a few quotes from my students, because why I truly believe that it is hugely important, I think their voice is more important and says more about how this has affected them as learners.
Grace: Thank you, Kati, that was great and I think you can just start to get a little glimpse there of what the impact is when you do this at the level of just one classroom and how much impact it can have there. We are going to hear from Shelly Berman momentarily about the results that he has seen doing this district-wide, but first, let's just check in with you out there in the audience one more time. You should see a poll on your screen again. We'd like to hear from you, what are the obstacles you have to implementing social emotional learning. Obviously there are a number of possible ones, but please take a minute and just list probably the one that you feel is the most significant. And just a reminder, please do keep sending your questions on that question panel on the right hand side. Please include your name, your title and your location and just as soon as we wrap up with the presentations, we'll be going right to a Q and A to answer as many of those as we can. So hopefully you have now clicked your answer on the poll and we'll be getting results momentarily. All right, time, training, money, support from colleagues and administrators. These are probably the obstacles that a lot of people feel for all kinds of reforms they're doing. And hopefully, you're going to hear from-- well, you already heard from Kati and what Shelly's about to tell you, some of the strategies for getting over those humps.
So Shelly Berman became superintendent of the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, in two thousand seven and very quickly set about creating a district-wide social emotional learning program. As superintendent in Hudson, Massachusetts for fourteen years before that, he was known for innovations and civic education, social emotional learning, service learning, among others. And almost thirty years ago, he founded the national organization, Educators for Social Responsibility. I personally actually visited Jefferson County and saw the social emotional learning program in action there. It's called CARE for Kids. And I can say, I really could see the positive impact on the kids, and on the school environment, which was very calm and very productive. So I am now pleased to hand the reins over to Shelly Berman.
Sheldon: Thank you, Grace. Can you see the screen now? I just wanted to check in on that. There we go, sorry.
Grace: We don't quite see your screen yet, so as long you just accept [inaudible]. There you go, we've got you. You can go right ahead.
Sheldon: Okay, good. Great, thanks. Well, hello everybody. This is an exciting thing to do a webinar like this and hopefully I'll be able to share with you a little bit of the insight that I've had over the last actually seventeen years doing this work. First of all, let me set this in context. I see our mission as educators and as adults as being a bit larger than just simply preparing for the tests. And in fact, I know it is a time of accountability testing, but our real mission is to help young people develop the convictions and skills to shape a safe, sustainable-- and for me, that's the big picture of-- our work, and that's the goal of all the work we do, both in social emotional learning, and in the curricular areas. And in fact, some of the work that we've done collaboratively, and part of, I see, the effort in social emotional learning is the building of collaboration, not only among young people but among adults, is to develop what we call a theory of action or theory of change. And that theory of change is what motivates and moves us and guides us in the directions that we choose. AND JCPS, or Jefferson County Public Schools theory of action really begins with, first of all, collaboration, collaboration among adults, but the first point is when we collaborate, when we actually create caring and culturally responsive classroom communities, it's really a first step towards creating change for our students.
So our theory of action has really four components. One is creating a caring community. The second is providing high quality personalized instruction that challenges and engages students in authentic work. Third is really looking at enquiry based curriculum that engages students actively, in the classroom and in their instruction, and then preparing leaders with that vision and to carry that vision forward. And as a result of those four, what we see then is that we can have students graduate with a higher level of academic performance, stronger character development and a sense of civic engagement, and their ability to engage with others, and in fact, enhanced health and wellness as well. But our ultimate goal is not only that they advance their health and wellness, but they achieve their goals, follow their dreams and actually create a more just society. And that last piece is really critical for us. That in fact goes back to the central part of our mission, is to see the bigger picture of our work.
Let me just say something about Jefferson County Public Schools. We have essentially a hundred and fifty-five schools. We have almost a hundred thousand students, about thirteen thousand five hundred employees. We're a diverse school system and in fact, I think we're one of the few school systems in the country that still retains an effective student assignment plan that brings diversity across the system, so that we don't necessarily have high concentrations of minority students in one particular area or another particular area. And in fact, what we're doing now is continuing to build that and build a diverse system. However, we do have a high poverty rate. Sixty-one percent of our students are on free and reduced lunch and that has its own implications. But within that context, it's very important that we create an environment that's a positive and caring environment for students. So in fact, what is necessary to do that is to really build what I would consider as a cohesive program across the district. I'm a strong believer that you need to focus on district-wide change. It's wonderful to focus in on the school, but oftentimes, then the change of the principal or the change of a group of teachers, a program shifts or goes away s a result. Now you need the--
Grace: Hey Shelly, it's Grace. I'm sorry to jump in here, but we're getting feedback that your volume's a little bit low for the participants, so if you can find a way to turn that up or just speak up a little bit.
Sheldon: Okay, thank you for that feedback.
Sheldon: Thanks. So in a sense, I think we need an organizing framework and a comprehensive vision that moves us. We need a district-wide approach, and we also need quality programs and policy supports to carry that forward. In other words, we need a comprehensive way of approaching social emotional learning, or any program that we want to implement on a continuing and effective basis. And the comprehensive system that we have focused on is actually around three sort of core values, in a way. One is empathy, and we've created a whole series of programs. We use a whole series of programs that I'll describe in a couple of minutes to promote that. Ethical development, and promoting the ethical development of students through pro-social literature and a program that I'll describe in a couple of minutes called Making Meaning. And then building in service throughout our curriculum so that students actually get to practice their social emotional skills out in the real world with other students in their school, or in the larger environment around them. And in fact, our approach involves a number of areas.
We've initiated a program called CARE for Kids. It actually is part of a program called Caring School Communities that was developed by the Developmental Studies Center in Oakland, California, and it integrates some elements of other programs as well. It consists of a morning meeting, an end of the day check in meeting, class meetings that are really problem solving meetings and an approach to discipline that we call developmental discipline, cross-age mentoring, that can help students through their service to others, cultural competence and a focus on teacher language, much as Kati had referred to in terms of the way she thinks about language, home-to-school activities that bring the home into the school and parents into the environment of the school, as well as school into the home, and school-wide community building activities. Let me share a little bit on each one of these. But first, let me say that in fact, the social curriculum, to me, is as important as the academic-- We have to get the social curriculum right in order to create an environment that's productive for students, so they feel comfortable taking risks, communicating with each other effectively, working together effectively. If you're going to have an enquiry based curriculum, you need students to work and collaborate. So the social curriculum is key and we need to be as conscious of how we create that social curriculum as we are about the academic curriculum.
Now we begin each day at the elementary level, we're beginning our work with a morning meeting, which is sort of a daily routine that builds community unity and creates a positive environment. Students learn about each other and share with each other. There's usually some activity at the beginning that brings the classroom together. We also have check in meeting at the end of the day, which bring the classroom in a way to effective closure. In fact, many parents have said to me, "My child comes home and now they share what they've learned or what insight they've had because of those closing meetings." And they're simple meetings, they take ten minutes, where students just simply will whip around the classroom talking about what stood out for them today or what they learned today, or something that they're proud of. And through a variety of prompts, students share and bring closure to the day. In addition, we have class meetings which are really problem solving meetings. It's a forum for students and teachers, the teacher, to come together and solve problems, come up with rules, make decisions about the classroom, and reflect together about situations in the classroom, whether those are curriculum situations or whether those are behavior situations, or whether there's just a problem that they want to serve in the community and they all want to think about how they're going to do that in terms of a service project or a community effort.
We also have a different way of focusing on discipline, where developmental discipline is really looking at the logical consequences for behavior. So for example, if one student pushes another or hits another, it's not necessarily appropriate for us to say we're going to suspend the student, but rather to sit down and say, "How do we resolve a conflict between these two students? What can the student learn from the situation and how do I create a learning environment, or an environment round this discipline situation where the student learns so that this behavior's prevented the next time and they understand their behavior, understand the consequences?" It usually involves apologies, it usually involves some communication and conflict resolution between individual students. We're also involved in cross-age mentoring, where older students, whether it's fifth grade students working with second graders, fourth graders with first graders, third graders with kindergarteners, so that they feel a sense of connection with others in the school and the older students feel that they're giving to another and they're exemplifying the kinds of social emotional skills that they're learning through the work that they're doing in the classrooms.
Because we have a diverse community, cultural competence is very important, and that we learn from each other's cultures and appreciate each other's cultures. And we have done some extensive training of teachers in cultural competence and in communication, so that teachers are much more aware of the cultures in their classroom. We have many students coming from other countries, so that we're learning about those other countries, we're learning about the cultures in the classroom and we're honoring those and communicating to students that their culture is important and is recognized within the classroom. The home to school activities build communications. A simple activity in maybe kindergarten or first grade may be that the student goes home with an assignment to ask the question of their parent or guardian, "How did I get my name?" and brings that conversation back into the classroom and we share that. There's a whole variety of ways of engaging parents and guardians in the communication and in the activities of the classroom, as well as creating some community activities that bring parents in, in ways that are not simply around report cards or around other communications, around grades, but really around building a larger community.
And so in fact, the school-wide community building activities are really key. Those sometimes include parents, but sometimes they're just a gathering of the entire school, and discussions or presentations, or a particular classroom leading a whole school meeting. Finally, I think, it's very important that we bring this into the curriculum as well. We're using, in some of our schools, a curriculum called Making Meaning, which not only builds comprehension skills, but builds communities, a community in the classroom. It actually embeds the social skills into the very instruction comprehension, and there are a number of curricula like that. This one is produced by the Environmental Studies Center. It's one that I think is quite good, but there are many ways that you can do that to a curriculum as well, particularly enquiry based math and science programs, where you focus on social skills and collaboration also. Implementing a program that's K to twelve takes again a comprehensive effort. It takes professional development, curriculum planning time. We provide in class support of what we call resource teachers or coaches, who go out and work with teachers and coach teachers in these practices. It takes teacher leadership so that we have the leadership in each of the school sites, so that there's an on site person who can support others. There's student leadership development, so we work with students to take leadership roles as well. But it also requires administrative mandate and support. It's very important that I take a lead role in this and make this an important statement, that it is important to me, it's important to the district, the board makes it important in the goals that it sets, and that we recognize this work and recognize those who are leaders in this work.
And in fact, as I see it, SEL is about engaging students in effective learning. It does mean that they are not only engaged in their learning, but they understand the meaning of the common good. They appreciate that their actions have consequences for others and the community at large, and they develop a sense of relatedness to and responsibility to the larger human community. And that comes back to that larger goal of really saying we can make a difference with students, we can create a more just society, and this is a key way of doing that, and a key way of enhancing academics. And in fact, that's one of the things that has happened, is that our CARE for Kids schools, we have some that are CARE for Kids schools and non CARE for Kids schools, but we're moving to all our schools being CARE for Kids. And our student perceptions, our positive perceptions of support have been much greater in our CARE for Kids schools, and our academic results in all our CARE for Kids schools, our student achievement, has been higher in those, as opposed to our comparison schools.
So we've seen the results of social emotionally and academically. It's been a great endeavor for us. It's so great that we're taking this on in a comprehensive way, and I think our whole school system feels like they are going back to what brought them to education, just caring about kids and being more effective in their instruction as a result, so thank you.
Grace: Thank you very much for that look at a program that I was quite impressed with myself. We're going to move straight on to our final presenter, Timothy Shriver. Tim Shriver is chairman of the board of directors of CASEL and one of its founders back in nineteen ninety four. For those who don't know, CASEL is the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, an organization that has helped define and build the field of social emotional learning on a national scale, and CASEL does this through research, support for schools, including Shelly Berman's district in fact, and increasingly through public policy, which Tim will tell you more about. CASEL also recently convened a hundred key leaders in Washington DC to begin shaping a national social emotional learning strategy. And wearing one of his other many hats, Tim carries on the work of his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, as chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics. And years ago, he also taught high school in New Haven, Connecticut. So it is my pleasure to welcome Tim Shriver. Tim, are you with us? Tim, we can't hear you just yet, so please check your audio settings. We can see your screen. Still can't hear you though. Okay, let's pause real quick and while we're checking on Tim's audio, I'm going to go ahead and take a question from the audience.
Tim: All right, can you hear me now?
Grace: Oh, there you are, great.
Tim: Sorry, I apologize.
Grace: That's okay.
Tim: So anyway, I really wanted to start by cheering for Kati and Shelly. They had extraordinary presentations. It's wonderful the way this is sequenced to go from the classroom level, the real life story of a teacher trying to make a difference, to the district level, Shelly's historic, really, commitment to this work and his now really exemplary work in all the things he's doing as a national leader, and now to say a little bit about CASEL and to hope the attendees can think about CASEL as a place that's a resource to the movement of social and emotional learning around the country.
Grace: Sorry, Tim, I just have to jump in one sec. We can't see your screen right now, so I'm going to go ahead and hand it back to you one more time.
Grace: Hopefully when you take it this time, we'll be able to see you, so look for that on your screen.
Grace: Do you see a window? If you minimize-- if you just go ahead and minimize your presentation for a minute. Great.
Tim: Okay, do you have me?
Grace: We got you. Go right ahead.
Tim: Okay, I'm sorry. So let me go quickly into CASEL and a little bit about CASEL's history and its goal to engage the people on the call and the people in this movement around the country and in fact, around the world, in a broader commitment to this work that you've heard so eloquently from Shelly and Kati about. CASEL was formed, as you'll see here, in nineteen ninety four. It was formed by a group of people, some of us educators, teachers. I was working in a school district, others were designing programs to prevent substance abuse, others designing programs to promote social confidence. We came together and we realized that we had one thing in common. We had a common problem. We saw fragmentation in school districts. We felt that we were add-ons when we were working in districts in dropout prevention. We were another program the principals and teachers didn't want to hear from. The policies in our districts didn't really support the work we were trying to do. Districts weren't thinking developmentally. They were thinking about intervening with kids at risk. They were thinking about, how do you stop bad behaviors? We were interested not so much in how do you prevent bad, but how do you promote good? And in the context of thinking, how do you promote good, how do you promote attachment to school, how do you promote a sense of safety in school, how do you promote motivation to learn, we started to shape these ideas that the social learnings were important, that the emotion of the learner was important, that the idea that each child would want to be in school. What could we do to start in kindergarten to do drop our prevention rather than eighth grade or tenth grade, when we had multiple absences and truancy problems.
And so we created this concept of a field called social and emotional learning, but tried to make it very much rooted in the idea of learning, that this was a developmental issue, that this was an educational issue. This was not a social service issue. And we committed ourselves to trying to advance the science of social emotional learning, to expand effective practice, and then to look also at federal and state policies, what was working and what wasn't working. How could we be more effective at promoting a developmental approach to learning that would help all students learn? What we found was what most schools, I think, still struggle with. There were parent programs and violence and substance abuse programs and health and family life programs, after school activities, character education. And all districts seemed to have a whole array of different names to these kinds of puzzle pieces. It was a piecemeal language. It was frustrating to teachers. Every time someone would knock on the door and say, "I've got a new program for you," the teacher would roll his or her eyes. "Oh my goodness, I've got no time for this kind of stuff. Why doesn't the district get its act together?"
So we conceptualized, at least on paper, the idea that social and emotional learning could form a common underpinning, that we could integrate these programs with academic instruction, that there could be a coordination with a health promotion philosophy, that character learning, service learning, citizenship education and the whole array of programs that link to school and family and community partnerships could come together, that there could be a unified strategy, that it could be dominated by rigorous approaches to curriculum and instruction and teacher preparation; that classroom and whole school and community programs could be one set of programs, thought about educationally, not as interventions and add-ons, but as education and development, as a unified strategy in promoting the learning of all children.
So we look at why does this work? I won't go into all the details of all the points that Kati and Shelly have made about some of the successful interventions. You've heard about them already. But what have we found over the last fifteen or so years? I mean, this is probably my most important slide. What we have done with some of our scholars and some of our program developers and educators is do a massive study of the best programs around the country and look at how combined, what their outcomes are. The top couple of green points here are really important. So some people would say, "Well, I would expect that if you did social emotional learning programs, you'd get increases in social and emotional skills." Well, of course, we do get exactly that. You'd say, "Well, maybe we'd get a significant increase in attitudes about self and school and others, because you're teaching problem solving, you're teaching decision making, or you're teaching self awareness." Also, you can get a nine point gain in those kinds of things. Pro-social behavior, you heard Kati mention some of these things. Better attendance, more likely to get along with peers. Shelly talked about the impact of whole school approaches to these things and pro-social behavior.
But this fourth bullet point we were stunned by, an eleven point gain on standardized tests. Not on school grades, which are very subject to teach subjectivity, but standardized tests. When programs are implemented effectively with adequate teacher support, good instructional support at the level of the school or the school districts, you see standardized test gains. And this was a stunning finding, and I think really a critical finding for the future of our field.
What do these programs have in common? They tend to look at at least five categories: self awareness and self management skills, social awareness and relationships skills and decision making skills. So there's a sense in which they integrate ways to help children develop a sense of themselves, a sense of their relationships and a sense of the kinds of decision making and ethical and responsible values that will guide them in the future. When you put these together, you integrate them effectively, you train and support teachers effectively, you get the kind of findings you saw on the previous slide. This slide just gives you a little bit of a sense of how these things work together, because one of the important points to make here is that social and emotional learning is not just touchy feely. I mean, you heard this again from Shelly. It's not just, "Do what you want, feel good, have a nice discussion." Three's a rigor. I mean, CASEL is committed to rigorous, scientific study of effective practices and so we've tried to cull out of the most successful programs what works. When you can teach children to recognize their own emotions and value others, when you can teach children empathy, when you can teach children ethical and constructive choices, when you can help children with very successful strategies to form positive working relationships, to deal with conflict and to do that in a way that's embedded with instructional content around obviously language arts skills and mathematic skills, then you get the kind of findings we're seeing.
All this leads us to ask the question, are we at a turning point? Is this a moment at which the discussion about testing, the discussions about standards, the discussions about measurement, can be complemented by a discussion about teaching and learning? Is it time for us to begin to think as a country about the ways in which the inner life of the child, the inner life of the teacher, the motivational factors in learning, the relationship factors in learning, can contribute to a rebirth, and a reinvigoration of school reform efforts? Can we begin to generalize the idea that relationships don't support learning, but rather that learning is a relationship? At all stages of life, learning is relational? We think now is the time. Why now? The scientific base is stronger than it has ever been. The neuroscience, which I am no expert on, suggests strong correlations between emotion and attention. Attention is the highest, we think, correlated neurodevelopmental factor that contributes to learning. So if you have emotion driving attention, and attention driving learning, you see the roots of emotion clearly in the way in which children are able to pay attention and be motivated.
We now know SEL can be taught. It can be taught by regular teachers. Teachers themselves benefit from integrating these skills into their own lives and these benefits have long durations. We couldn't have said these things five, ten, fifteen years ago. We can say them now. But that's not all. We can also say that the practice is mature. We have proven programs. You've heard about them here today and again, Shelly and Kati have given such good examples. The programs are out there. These are not people flying off the seat of their pants, trying something, running kind of into your school classrooms and districts saying, "I've got a new way to get children just to talk about their feelings." These are proven programs, strong evidence based. Schools are already implementing these programs effectively. There are champion school districts. Louisville, we've heard about, Anchorage and still others around the country, that can begin to showcase real model ways of implementing these programs in very effective ways for all kids. And even more, we've got a policy landscape that suggests real breakthroughs. Illinois and New York and Michigan are all looking at, or have adopted social emotional learning standards as part of their educational standards for their states. We have, you see Congressman Kildee here, who has introduced a House resolution, four two two three, which is the academic social and emotional learning act of this year, and we're hoping to get support for national centers and demonstration grants and technical assistance programs in to support these at the national level. And we of course have the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind coming up this year, and that opens up a chance, no matter what you think of No Child Left Behind, to begin to insert into the language of federal legislation the importance of these factors at a national level. We do have the tools to do this.
You know, we used to teach, and we still do teach in classes, problem solving tools. We teach children to stop when they have a problem, calm down, you know, think before you act. We teach them to say the problem, express their feelings. We teach them goal setting skills, how do you frame your goal, how do you identify your goal, what is a goal, what's a positive goal? How to do lots of solutions, how to generate solutions so you don't just do the first thing. How you do consequential thinking, how you use your brain to anticipate consequences of various solutions, how to go ahead, timing and planning and do what you think is the best thing to solve a problem. I say all this because I think we have to use these exact same skills to create the movement we need today in social emotional learning. We have to recognize stop, calm down to think, to think beyond politics, to think beyond all the barriers that we face today, to think beyond trying to attack this position or that position, to try to overthrow this person or that person, who's our friend or our opponent in school reform.
I think we have to say the problem: kids are growing up with significant stress, without the social and emotional supports of prior generations, without the social and emotional supports they need to become caring citizens, without the sense of support they need to become people who can manage their own lives and feel committed to the learning we're asking them to do. And when we say how it makes us feel, some of us say scared to be raising children in these environments, some of us say angry, some of us say frustrated, some of us say impatient. The goal, implement high quality, high quality social emotional learning as part of an integrated school reform strategy, so that all kids can achieve their best. There's lots of solutions: working with principals, working with teachers, improving the programs we have, changing the policy landscape. I can't take the time to go through all the consequences, but for us, the best plan is to build the movement and that's where all of you on this call come in. We need to increase awareness and the support base for this work. We need to strengthen state and federal policies. We need to highlight the successes where they exist as we're doing on this call today. We need to create a support system and tools and systems for all school districts. I mean, Shelly said it, you know, when you get the district, you have the possibility of a fully integrated approach here, so people don't feel that fragmentation you saw on the early slides. We have to recognize that teachers are under siege, that they are beleaguered with excessive demands, with enormous amounts of pressure. Principals are the same. This cannot feel like another source of pressure. This has to feel like a way to help them fulfill their ideals as educators, as Shelly said so well earlier. We have to build the kinds of alliances, partnerships, models, that as we lobby for federal and state change, to promote the kind of integrated approach to policy, so when we try to educate the whole child, we won't feel as though we're taking time off task, but rather doing the task that we are most motivated to do.
You all can help in so many ways. I know we've got teachers on this call, school administrators, activists. Help us look at the schools and districts that you live in and live around. What's in place? Who's supportive? What needs to happen? Consider sending parents and community leaders to the high quality programs. You can find them all on our website. We'll be putting out more and more notices about the ESEA reauthorization about state efforts, about the social emotional, academic social and emotional learning act, House resolution four two two three. Be current on the best practices. Be committed to this ideal as a quality ideal. Finally, the first letter in the name CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning speaks to, I think, the most important. From our point of view, the people who are listening here tonight, and those who will listen later, you are our collaborative, you are a part of the community of collaborators that we so desperately need. This is not a top down movement. This is not a wonky movement. This is a movement of collaboration, born in an era of collaboration, dedicated to sharing information as broadly and as effectively as possible, committed to rigor and results, committed to children, especially those most at risk who are struggling so much in our society to achieve their best potential. We are so hopeful that this work will not only help make students better learners, but make them more likely to become caring citizens, more likely to become responsible and committed to themselves and to their families and to the future of our country, to see eye to eye and heart to heart with the teachers and administrators and people who gave their lives, or who have given their lives, to the idea that growing up and to child development and learning can be the key to unlocking their deepest potential.
You know, I've told this story a couple of times, but being in Shelly's district is an inspiration to all of us. I'll just close quickly by saying that the last thing I saw in Shelly's district was an elementary classroom where children were talking about one value they'd learned, and the value was respect and the teacher was debriefing an exercise, saying, "Why is respect important for our classroom? Why is respect important?" And the answers came back, as you'd expect, "Respect is important because our parents teach us respect, and respect is important because it makes it so that we don't fight and respect is important, because everyone deserves respect." And one little child turned and said, "You know, I think respect is important because it helps us to understand each other." In some ways, this movement, social and emotional learning, it's about reminding educators of our responsibility to understand children, and reminding all of us of the great hope that comes when education is framed as an exercise in helping us to understand the great ideas as well as each other. If we can sell that and build the movement worthy of that child and these acts and these kinds of ideas, I think we will have really contributed in a significant way to a rebirth of education as a tool and as a means of helping each child achieve their best. Thank you.
Grace: Tim, thank you very much for quite a clarion call for the need for this kind of work. And now, let's turn to all of your questions. We have just a few minutes left, so we're actually going to go ahead and go past the hour by a few minutes to get in more of your questions. Those of you who want to stay for that are quite welcome. And Tim, Shelly and Kati, if you would all make sure you're not on mute, so we can have an open discussion here. Yeah, you're here with us. So first question here comes from Patty Cloherty, and I think Kati probably ought to start this one off. She teaches social studies in New York, and there's the New York regions and she asks, "How would this work when I have to follow curriculum maps? I feel rushed as it is to keep up with the maps at the district level." Kati, you want to start on that?
Kati: Yeah, I really feel that. The pacing guides, we have them too, and I just think there are ways to find-- well, the things I talked about are really easy to fit into your content. There are just small ways that you change routines and you create rituals, but I also think, like having time for circle or for morning meeting, it really is worth the time if you are seeing your students work better together, because then the burden is off of you to do all the teaching. The students are teaching each other and they're pushing each other and they're feeling safe to make like intellectual risks, to take intellectual risks. So I think it is hard to do, but it's worth it, and I think you get better results that way.
Grace: And Shelly, how do you help the educators in your district? This relates to another question that we got from Terry Smith about testing, teaching to the test. When people feel so rushed and so pressured to get through all this material, how do you convince them and support them so that they can make the time? You need to speak up again still.
Sheldon: All right, let me say two things about that. One is that first of all, I think it saves you time. When you have a classroom that's functioning smoothly, when students are communicating well with each other, you can actually move through the curriculum much more easily and much more effectively. And students who may not otherwise say, "I have a problem understanding this," may feel comfortable saying, "I just don't understand this well. Can you explain that or I can get help with this?" And it builds a sense of community in the classroom. That's what Tim was showing and what we've seen is, the results are quite powerful. So taking the time actually saves you time. I know it feels contradictory, but that is the case. The other thing is that I happen to believe if we just simply preparing for the test, we're not really serving the larger purposes of education. The test, doing well on the test, should be a result of the quality education that we're providing, not simply the rush to get everything in so that students answer every question right on the test. We have to see the larger perspective and help educate our students to be, you know, the kinds of full human beings that we hope them to be. So in fact, I think it's my responsibility and other administrators' responsibility to take the time to do this. It is absolutely critical. And not only is it critical for your classroom, but it's critical for the next classroom and the next year's teacher and the year after that and the year after that, because as students build these skills, they get much more effective at the work in school that they do.
Grace: Tim, I'm going to lob this next one to you. This comes from Heather Gallant who is a communications and training coordinator at the Wellesley Center for Women, in Wellesley, Mass, and she asks, "Do you have any funding suggestions for schools who are interested and invested in social emotional learning, but can't afford a high quality program?"
Tim: I don't have a specifically good one, no. I mean, I think we're looking at trying to promote more flexibility in some of the federal programs that are currently being introduced by the current administration. Certainly there are some state programs. Some of our programs have accessed a lot of their funding through things like Safe and Drug Free Schools grants, historically. Some have used traditional grants around remedial programs. I think, you know, to Shelly's point, if this work is integrated, and if you go back to the research findings that suggest that if you do this effectively, you get standardized test gains, you can think about funders who might be looking at improving test scores and suggest to them that the intervention that might be most effective, particularly for kids at risk-- although we believe for all kids-- the intervention that's most effective might be the implementation of a high quality social and emotional learning program to undergird the entire academic curriculum and to integrate the social emotional life of students, school and community. So I don't have a specific, unfortunately, a specific source that a particular school or school district might want to access, but I think we have to be very creative, and this is something CASEL's going to try to help principals, teachers and superintendents think about, maybe with some basic tools, that would help make the case to funders that the implementation of a high quality social emotional learning program can and should be part of the implementation of a program to improve the school and to improve test scores and academic outcomes.
Grace: I would ask to that also that if you take a look at Edutopia's recent coverage on Jefferson County, Shelly's district, there's a pretty deep array of articles and videos there, showcasing exactly how they have done what they've done. And Jefferson County's been kind enough to provide a lot of documents that are very instructive on their methods, and those are available for download on our website. One other person had asked for a reading list for people interested in social emotional learning, and you can find that in our Jefferson County coverage as well. I'm going to take one more question before we wrap up here. I think this is a question that's probably on a lot of people's minds and I'd like each of our panelists to take a crack at it. This comes from Tracey McCormick at Rocky Mount Options School in Broomfield, Colorado, saying simply, you know, "Next Monday, please name three things that I can implement in my classroom to start this focus on SEL." So we'll take it one at a time. Kati?
Kati: Yeah. Well, I think you know, yeah, might be kind of fast to start something as big as like a circle ritual or something like that, but I think if you don't already do partner work, you know, or you could even start with just a quick writing prompt where you ask your students, you know, what's your high and your low right now? What's really going like great for you, what are you proud of and what's one thing you're really struggling with? And even just have them turn that into you at the end of the period, that's one way where you're sending the message that you want to know how your students are as people of the world, and you know, what they're bringing with them to class that day. And then you could start doing small things like, you know, having them talk in partners about, you know, what they need or what they're dealing with. Yeah, I think really just starting to ask them those questions and starting to send the message that you're interested in who they are outside of learning. And I'm sure, you know, teachers do that all the time, but I think that's one way to start.
Grace: Thanks. Shelly?
Sheldon: Well, it's hard to just launch into one thing that you can do, but what I would say, let me offer two. One is that you get [inaudible] that are available on the resource list and begin doing the kind of reading that [inaudible] background. It isn't as easy as, I can go in Monday and run a morning meeting. You want to actually set up a plan and begin to work on a plan that will enable you to build over time. So I would suggest to begin by just reading. And the other thing I would suggest you do is begin by observing, and just the whole student interactions and observe the way they're interacting, and begin to see, what are the kinds of situations that [inaudible] some problem solving situations later on. And as examples of dialogs you could use in class meetings or in morning meetings. So I think the first step is educating yourself about how to do these things well, and how to carry them into the classroom well.
Grace: Thanks, and Tim, final word on that.
Tim: Yeah, I guess I don't want to sound like a bureaucrat, but if I were going to do something on Monday, I'd go talk to my principal. And I'd say to the principal, "I just went to this wonderful webinar that the George Lucas Educational Foundation did, and I'm going to hand you the presentations that document the fact that we ought to be doing this, and I as a teacher would like to be on the front lines of implementing a high quality program. And I've gone to the CASEL website, CASEL.org. I've found ideas for funding. I've found a list of the highest quality programs in the country and I think we ought to be investing immediately in bringing in trainers so that we can raise our test scores, make our kids happier. And if you want to keep me and retain me as a high quality teacher, that's what you've got to do." So I mean, I don't want to say that the teacher can't do something on their own, but I do believe that in the end, the success of this work will turn on our success as a movement, to engage people at all levels of decision making, and making whole schools committed to this at a very high quality and sustainable way, and that requires either a principal or superintendent or both.
Grace: Definitely, and I hope this presentation today has given you some of the tools that you need to get out there and start advocating and start putting this into practice in your classroom. Thank you all for your great questions. There's definitely many of them that we didn't get to, but this is just the beginning. We're going to carry on this conversation in our online discussion group at Edutopia.org on social emotional learning. That's actually hosted by our own lovely Kati Delahanty. And you can feel free to jump into any and all conversations there if you have experiences to share or more questions to ask. That group is the hub for social emotional learning conversations on Edutopia.org. Remember that you can find lots more information and downloadable resources at Edutopia.org and you can download the slides from today's presentation on our webinar's page. I want to really thank Tim and Shelly and Kati for sharing their time and wisdom on this topic, that I think we all agree is of the utmost importance. And all of us here at Edutopia thank you for participating today, for doing the good work that you do, for spreading the word about great innovations in education and for going out and fighting the fight on social emotional learning. To show just how appreciative we are, I'm going to announce the winners of our free DVD on Jefferson County's CARE for Kids program. They are Sofia Lopez, Joe Huber and Martha Banks. And again, thanks all of you, and please, carry this good word out to all your schools and communities where you are. Just a couple reminders before you leave. Please do tell us your feedback. After this webinar, you'll receive an email that directs you to a brief survey, and please take a minute to fill that out, to help us make our webinars better. And our next webinar will be in April with Greg Mortenson, author of "Three Cups of Tea," and we'll send an invite out soon with more information on that. You can check out our webinar page as well at Edutopia.org/webinars. So thank you again for participating, thanks to our panelists and thanks everyone for being a part of Edutopia.
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