Teachers Say Social-Emotional Learning Can Lead to Healthier, Happier Kids

As teachers, we know our jobs involve a lot more than academics.

There are students in each of our classrooms who are suffering through stress and trauma at home, be it from poverty, hunger, divorce, addiction, violence, a learning disability, or otherwise, which can batter a child’s sense of self-worth, or hamper their ability to focus and learn. Some of our students can’t seem to make friends with their classmates, or persevere through a difficult challenge.

Just as we know that every student has a unique academic learning style, we know that every student has unique social and emotional needs. We see firsthand what the research attests—that social and emotional development is critical to students’ academic and occupational success. The social and emotional “soft skills” like communication, collaboration, and empathy must be embedded into the class curriculum alongside academics.

We’re not the only ones who think so.

Earlier this year, the Rodel Teacher Council surveyed more than 220 educators from pre-k through 12th grade and from every school district in Delaware, including vo-tech and charter schools.

Nine out of ten Delaware educators agreed that social and emotional learning (SEL) is critical to student success and should be emphasized more in school. Around 97 percent of educators said they want more training on best practices in SEL, with 51 percent indicating they were “very interested.”

While educators could identify more than 40 SEL programs or initiatives happening in their schools, we know that they report lack of supports such as resources, training, measures and standards, which leaves our schools without strong coordination or an understanding of what’s working.

                                                                        

We’ve put these findings and more into our new brief: Educators Speak Up: Social and Emotional Learning in Delaware with the hope that they’ll contribute to the growing focus underway and help educators to work alongside families, policymakers, community members, and all education partners to address the social and emotional needs of every student in our state.

It will take all of us to build a positive climate for SEL in our schools and communities. But our work will lead to classrooms filled with confident, equipped teachers—and healthier, happier kids. Ask your child’s teachers and school or district administrators how they support whole child development in your school, and find out how you can get involved.

We hope you’ll join us by learning more at bit.ly/RodelSEL.