Social Emotional Learning Courses
What is Social Emotional Learning Courses?
What is the problem we are addressing?
One challenge today is that many young adults are lacking the soft skills or the social and emotional learning (SEL) skills to be successful in today’s workforce. They are known for having less grit and resilience. Therefore, it is all the more important for schools to focus on developing these areas in our students to prepare them for success in the workplace and in life in the 21st century.
What is our solution?
At Vision International School (VIS) we have created leadership classes in our high school as an elective credit to directly teach students the social and emotional learning skills they need to succeed and thrive in today’s global society. We are creating space for students to discuss challenges in our lives in the 21st century and introducing the social and emotional skills necessary to wisely live as local leaders and global learners to address these challenges.
Because young people today are very image driven, we are using Growing Leaders’ Habitudes by Dr. Tim Elmore which uses images to represent leadership habits and attitudes as the framework for teaching SEL. These images help the leadership concepts to stick with the students weeks and months later and build a common language for us all to use to discuss leadership.
An overview of our impact
I have watched, listened, and received feedback from students on the impact our leadership classes have had on them. We begin with an activity or movie clip to engage the students and highlight the SEL skill we will be thinking about and discussing for the week. Through class discussions students make realizations and connections. They also complete private, personalized reflections over each concept where they consider the impact of this leadership concept in their own lives. They determine if this leadership concept is a strength or an area of growth for them, how they want to apply the concept and SEL skills to their lives right now and in the future, and what their next steps and big takeaways are that they want to remember and apply. Students are given challenges with each concept to immediately begin making changes in their lives to grow their SEL skills and become stronger leaders.
Examples of implementation
I have had graduates reach out to me and share specific concepts that have stuck with them, that have changed the way they think and act, and have made a positive impact on their lives after high school and have supported them in achieving more of their dreams and goals because they regularly keep applying specific leadership concepts we discussed and worked through in our leadership class together.
What are our future goals?
Our immediate goal at VIS is to expand our leadership courses that directly teach SEL skills from a few classes to all high school grade levels and eventually into our middle school classes as well. These SEL skills are invaluable not only for life after graduation, but help support student needs and stresses during their secondary schooling as well.
Eventually, I envision VIS incorporating a short leadership moment into our weekly teacher meetings and even into the administrators weekly meeting to further deepen and develop a positive, leadership culture at all levels of our school. Even adults need to review leadership concepts to stay sharp and our best for our students, for each other, and for our communities at large.
We, as educators, must continue to model life-long learning and growing in our own SEL and leadership skills. We must live it, breathe it, think it, talk about it, do it, and be it. I envision our leadership program growing school wide and becoming a common language and a common, positive, caring, thriving culture of leaders among students, teachers, and staff around the school that impacts our broader, global community.
How can someone else implement it? What do they need?
Growing Leaders has 9 different values-based books, each with 13 different leadership images representing various social and emotional learning concepts. The books are filled with the image and explanation, stories and examples, discussion points, self-reflections, and an exercise or challenge for students to complete. Growing Leaders offers online courses that align with the books and include even more resources that have proven to be very powerful with our students. Habitudes provide a great framework for teaching, learning, and developing crucial social and emotional skills for the 21st century.
However, on a more integral level, it is really about identifying students’ SEL needs at any given point in time, finding and creating resources and experiences to address those needs, and creating a space and giving time to help students develop SEL skills through direct teaching, collaborative discussions, self-reflection, and personal application to help them achieve their goals and be successful in our global society. Achieving that is more than any one program. There are tons of resources and videos out there that teachers and schools can use to achieve that goal. We must choose to be intentional to directly implement vital SEL instruction for our students’ current and future success.