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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Emotional Intelligence: What Administrators Can Do

The resources are important and many.
By Jonathan Cohen

As the educational leaders in our schools and school districts, principals and superintendents play a pivotal role in ensuring that social and emotional learning is a priority for all members of the school community.

The following strategies and resources are focused on developing schoolwide support for social and emotional learning:

Involve the community. An effective social and emotional learning or character education program depends upon the support of all members of your school community. Include parents, teachers, and school and school district support staff in any discussion about programs and services in support of social and emotional learning. "Building Community Consensus for Character Education: Guidelines for Developing Broad-based Community Support for Character Education Programming in Schools," a comprehensive guide to developing community support for character education, is available from The Character Education Partnership.

Make social and emotional learning and character education part of your school or district strategic plan. Throughout the country, schools and school districts are formalizing their social and emotional learning and character education programs by including this all-important area in their school and district strategic plans. For an excellent overview of one school district's efforts to create a comprehensive character education program, read, "Character Education Without Turmoil," by Henry A. Huffman, assistant superintendent for instruction in the Mt. Lebanon School District, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Learn from the best. K-12 schools throughout the country have instituted programs and services in support of social and emotional learning. For a firsthand look at what several cutting-edge schools are doing, visit The Character Education Partnership, which includes an overview of schools that have received the CEP's annual Schools of Character award.

Implement a peer mediation program. Peer mediation and conflict resolution is a tried-and-true method of nurturing responsibility and helping students develop lifelong skills in interpersonal communication. You'll find a directory of Web-based peer mediation resources on the Teacher/Pathfinder Web site.

Resources

Educating Minds and Hearts: Social Emotional Learning and the Passage into Adolescence (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: 1999). This book, edited by Jonathan Cohen, features articles by many experts in social and emotional learning and includes useful strategies for all stakeholders interested in promoting emotional intelligence in our schools.

Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators by Maurice Elias et al. (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: 1997). Teachers, administrators, and school board members will all want to review this comprehensive resource.

The Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character. Review the site's list of "100 Ways to Promote Character Education" for innovative and practical ways to introduce character education in your school or district.

The Character Education Partnership. CEP is a nonpartisan coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to the development of character education programs in our nation's schools. Visit the CEP site for its excellent resources on character education.

The Child Development Project. This well-respected program has developed a comprehensive approach for K-6 schools in support of social and emotional learning that focuses on literature-based reading and language arts, collaborative classroom learning, a problem-solving approach (rather than rewards and punishments) to classroom management and discipline, parent and family involvement, and noncompetitive, community-building activities for children and adults.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. CASEL was founded in 1994 by Daniel Goleman and Eileen Rockefeller Growald to establish social and emotional learning (SEL) as an integral part of education from preschool through high school. Visit the CASEL Web site for informative articles, as well as extensive links to other SEL resources on the Web.

The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, an initiative of Educators for Social Responsibility, is the nation's largest and longest-running school program focusing on conflict resolution and intergroup relations. The RCCP model supports school staff, parents, families, and the community in teaching young people conflict resolution skills, promoting intercultural understanding, and providing models for positive ways of dealing with conflict and differences.

The Responsive Classroom, a project of The Northeast Foundation for Children, is based on the concept that the social curriculum in schools is as important as the academic curriculum. The Responsive Classroom Model is based on developing in children a set of core social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. Visit the organization's Web site for information about professional development opportunities, articles, and other resources.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Visit the Teaching Tolerance section of the SPLC Web site for excellent teaching resources -- and grant applications -- for schools interested in augmenting their efforts in support of peace and justice education -- a key component of social and emotional learning.

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