Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which young people acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions; set and achieve goals; demonstrate empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships, and make effective decisions. It includes a number of competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors. Learning is connected to the broader community and extends beyond the walls of the classroom and school. Connecting learning with community members, parents and extended family reinforces the links between school and other aspects of the learner’s life.
Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational. Deep learning engages the whole student (and teacher) – heart, mind, body and soul. When we work together, collaborate conceptually, and combine our energies to reinforce commonalities across multiple subject areas, we make learning cohesive, connected and relevant. The relationships teachers develop and foster with their students is essential to student success.
Learning involves patience and time. Effective instruction honours learning as a process in which teachers gradually shift responsibility of learning to students over time. To further learning and develop awareness of oneself as a learner, students must reflect on their learning, thereby becoming more autonomous and empowered to take ownership of their learning.
Learning requires exploration of one’s identity. Learning begins with a positive self-identity. Exploring their own identities in a safe learning environment helps students develop empathy towards their peers, build stronger relationships, and dispel stereotypes and perceptions about other cultures and groups of people.
We know and believe that the implementation and support of quality social and emotional learning (SEL) through research-based processes and practices have been shown to enhance the well-being of learners, overall achievement, and positive life outcomes. Through a growing awareness of the Core Competencies, learners develop essential intellectual, personal, and social-emotional proficiencies in order to engage in deep and life-long learning and become thoughtful, ethical and active citizens.
Supporting Ongoing Professional Learning
We support a variety of professional learning opportunities in the area of social and emotional learning for Surrey teachers. Some current examples including:
- School Inquiry
In 2017-18 approximately 55 elementary and secondary schools used an inquiry process to investigate school-based questions related to SEL. We welcomed 140 teachers and administrators as they attended a 3-part dinner series to support their inquiry process. Participants highlighted their learning throughout the series by indicating ideas or strategies that have impacted their practice, including:
- The importance of students telling their own stories. Self-assessment is a necessary process for students to gain self-awareness and develop an understanding of themselves as learners.
- The importance of continuing to educate ourselves and taking care of our own social emotional learning in order to better facilitate SEL with students.
- How closely linked SEL is to the core competencies and First Peoples Principles of Learning.
- The importance of a sense of belonging.
- The importance of having a growth mindset and using growth language with our students.
- How important it is to include parents in the process.
- “We saw ourselves as learners on this journey, able to celebrate and question along the way.”
- Changing Results for SEL
Using a case study inquiry approach, 17 Kindergarten – Grade 2 teachers are looking at the social emotional learning strengths and needs of individual students and adjusting their practices to meet the needs of those learners. This has a profound effect on the learning of everyone in the classroom.
- Cost Share Resourcing
There were 52 elementary schools that took part in the Social & Emotional Learning Cost Share opportunity. This involved providing evidence-based programs and relevant picture books to enhance the learning for skill building in the areas of problem solving, empathy, and emotion management.
We hosted 80 educators from around the district to provide the MindUp program and resources for classroom implementation.
Participating in this inquiry has helped me to be mindful of how I embed SEL into my classroom routines. As these routines develop they have created positive change in my students. They now feel empowered to recognize and advocate for their emotional needs. Surrey Educator
Our classroom teachers design learning environments focused on implementing the latest research in cognitive neuroscience and mindfulness in education to enhance the well-being of all who are part of the learning community.
When asked questions such as, “What does it mean to have courage?” and “Who or what supports your ability to be resilient?” the following Grade 4-6 Surrey students reflect on and share their experiences and how they apply specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes in order to manage emotions: