Mindfulness. Collaboration. Self-advocacy. Regulation.
These social and emotional skills are showing up increasingly in our lessons and in our classrooms. There's a growing consensus that just like we explicitly teach math and literacy, we should help students understand and gain mastery in the skills which will help them succeed in relationships of all kinds - with friends, family, peers, adults, themselves.
Don't teachers need those skills too?
In this profession, we need to hone our own social and emotional skills to do the best work possible. We need to navigate the complexity of authentic relationship with students, coworkers, administration, families, and the community. We need to manage our own emotions so we can do the work. We need supportive community so we can make sense of what is hard and what is joyful about teaching.
We don't assume that students come to us with a fully functioning set of refined social and emotional skills. Although we can (and should) assume the best of one another as professionals, we should also acknowledge that every one of us needs support around further honing these abilities.
So how do we support one another and ourselves to do this? First, we should identify the skillset we need in our roles. Does your particular job require flexibility? Frustration tolerance? Ability to give and receive feedback? Reread your favorite materials on social/emotional learning for students with an eye toward your own skillset.
Next, we can assess where we have strengths and where we have challenges. Check out the skills you identified that you need to be successful, and reflect on how you're doing with those skills. For me, I know that I do pretty well with feedback, but need lots of support around mindfulness and slowing down in tense moments.
Now that we know what we need to work on, let's find resources. There are tons right here on Edutopia, and I would love to hear in the comments other favorite go-to places for working on your own skills. A personal favorite of mine is SuperBetter.com, which turns developing social/emotional skills into a game.
Finally, let's take action. For me with my mindfulness goal, this might mean something as simple as putting a sticky note on my desk that says "slow down!" or as complex as starting a staff meditation group that meets twice a week before school.
And just like that, I'm on my way to developing a new area of social and emotional strength that lets me better serve my students.
The best part? Through this process, I can now experience what it feels like to work on these skills - and better facilitate the same work for my students.
What skills will you develop? What social and emotional skills are essential in your role in school? What are some creative ways we can work on these together?
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.