Exploring your own SEL Skills as an Educator
Start by taking a self-assessment of adult SEL skills, so that you can better understand your own SEL strengths and areas for growth. Developing SEL skills is a lifelong process—challenges and problems never go away!
Find a quiet place where you can focus for 15-20 minutes without interruption. Make yourself comfortable by playing your favorite music, having a warm drink, or simply taking a few deep breaths to ground yourself. Then, think about one thing that brings you joy in your life as an educator. Keep this thing in mind as you are answering the self-assessment. Use this personal SEL reflection tool to assess your personal strengths, and determine if there are any areas that you would like to practice more intentionally.
- Based on your self-assessment, what are some skills that you do well now and some skills that you’d like to further develop?
- List one or two actions that you can take to develop areas of growth.
- How will you know that you are making progress to develop your skills?
- What kind of support would you need in order to intentionally practice these social, emotional, and cultural competencies on a daily basis?
Understanding Resistance to SEL
The goal of SEL is to create a school community that promotes students’ social, emotional, and academic learning. The work is focused on building cultures of belonging, developing emotional resilience, trauma-informed practices, and culturally responsive pedagogies in service of equitable outcomes for all students.
Achieving this goal may seem daunting to many educators and school leaders because it requires much more than a single program or teaching method. Instead, because students’ learning is influenced by their interactions across many settings, promoting student SEL involves thoughtful coordination of strategies that reach across classrooms, all areas of the school, families, and community partners.
For example, in the classroom, supportive environments conducive to meaningful learning are created through 3 key strategies:
- Building a Supportive Classroom Environment: Community-Building, Creating a Sense of Belonging and Emotional Safety, Student-Centered Discipline
- Integration of SEL and Instruction: Fostering Academic Mindsets, Aligning SEL and Academic Objectives, Using Interactive Pedagogy
- Explicit SEL Instruction
Use this interactive rubric to reflect on where you are in the process of implementing these key 3 strategies in your classroom. Although the statements say “teachers,” think about them for your own classroom. As you explore the results, you may find yourself thinking “this is too much. I will never be able to do all these things well,” or “I need more time! I cannot implement these strategies until I am sure how they can be implemented in my classroom.” You may also be energized by this process!
Confronting your own resistance to change or having questions about your ability to do this work well is part of the implementation process. Read this article that describes 3 levels of resistance to SEL.
- Make two lists, one with “supports/levers” and one with “challenges” for SEL implementation in your classroom. Include aspects that are internal (your own experience, energy, interest or level of comfort in bringing SEL to your classroom) and external (grade level support, district commitment to SEL, etc.)
- From the challenges list, identify which items belong to the 3 levels of resistance described in the article.
- Now, consider the supports you would need to overcome the identified obstacles. Who can you enlist to help you increase your levers and decrease the challenges?
- Then, consider the resistance that other stakeholders (colleagues, parents, or administrators) may have. Now, go through the first three bullets thinking about them.
- Close by writing down 1 or 2 steps you can take to overcome some of the challenges you identified.
Three Misconceptions About SEAD
As more schools implement and integrate SEL in their educational programs, several misconceptions have emerged about the purpose and best practices in teaching for social, emotional, and academic development. We will explore these misconceptions and provide an opportunity for you to consider your own shifting mindset around SEL implementation.
Write down your own definition of SEL. Based on your own experience in schools, what are some things you know about SEL and what questions do you have? Now, read the article 3 Misconceptions about SEL.
- What did you think and feel while you were reading this article? What surprised you?
- Going back to your own definition, did you find any connections between your initial reflection and this article?
- Are any of these misconceptions present at your school?
- What are some of the barriers that can make it difficult to overcome these misconceptions?
- What are some of the levers that can support educators and schools to overcome these misconceptions?
3.1 Take it Deeper: Shifting Mindsets
Let’s explore how to address mindsets related to SEL integration. Here is a downloadable pdf to help you.