Teachers and administrators have long understood the importance of SEL. In combination with pressures to perform well in school, impacts of social media, and other issues which have led to a steady increase in anxiety and depression among students, the ongoing pandemic has added to momentum to prioritizing students’ social emotional wellbeing.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” Implemented effectively, SEL establishes solid grounds for safe and positive learning, empowering students to better succeed in school, careers, and in life.
Considering the challenges COVID-19 presented, and given the longstanding benefits SEL offers, it’s essential schools and districts look to provide a sustainable SEL solution.
From regulating emotions in and outside the classroom, to setting goals and learning how to communicate effectively with peers, SEL is critical for supporting students now and into the future. In addition to fostering positive effects on students’ attitudes toward self, school, and others, a 2008 report involving over 300,000 K-8 students shows that properly implemented SEL “improved students’ achievement test scores by 11 to 17 percentage points.” Furthermore, the follow-up studies noted that the positive effects of SEL remained over time.
However, despite the value of integrating SEL into instruction, research shows that daily and timely implementation can be challenging. While 59% of teachers simply felt they lacked the time, others noted they didn’t have the proper resources to support their students.
Turning to technology may be one way schools can more effectively support their students’ SEL.
Digital solutions offer an innovative and flexible way for teachers to foster SEL growth and provide accessible means for teachers to guide students through the five CASEL competencies. With the right technology, teachers can monitor progress and measure growth, allowing them to better understand their learners’ needs and goals as they explore topics.
In 2020, we launched StrongMinded SEL as a digital resource to support teachers in facilitating personalized SEL experiences in hybrid, blended, and virtual settings for grades 6-12.
“We recognized a huge need for a student-centered, research-based approach to teaching and learning social emotional skills – one that addressed individual student learning needs and complemented rather than competed with academic instruction,” commented Yovhane Metcalfe, Chief Academic Officer, StrongMind.
StrongMinded is easy to implement, and provides hundreds of bite-sized lessons that can be combined into customizable playlists. Having already helped thousands of students across Arizona – including students at Primavera Online School and Valor Academy of Arizona, as well as schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania – our SEL resource empowers teachers to help individual students build upon their existing strengths and develop in areas in need of growth without adding more to their workload.
Because innovative solutions like StrongMinded are seamless and simple to implement, technology can provide a means for teachers and administrators to offer timely and personalized SEL that is sustainable. Students can easily explore hundreds of topics and activities that are relevant to them, preparing them for success not only in school but in careers and life.