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Supporting social emotional learning in K12

Introduction

School, despite being a place where all students go to better their education, can be incredibly difficult for some to learn using current methods that schools practice. The problem is that teachers spend countless hours on content planning and ensuring they are meeting the criteria rather than focusing on making their material engaging through technology, particularly for those students who are experiencing mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and conduct disorders. Poor mental health in childhood is associated with a number of negative outcomes in later life, including poorer educational attainment and employment prospects. (source).

 

What is Social and Emotional Learning?

“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (source)

The introduction of SEL would not only aid those already affected by mental health issues but would help to prevent these problems in those students who aren’t currently affected by these issues.

 

How do emotions affect school performance?

Our education, work and even social life is hugely affected by our emotion at that time. When students are affected by mental health issues outside of school, this will more than likely affect their school life in the same way that issues inside of the school would. Understanding these emotions and handling them can be difficult however a study in 2001 categorised these emotions into eight different segments.

During Robert Plutchik’s research in 2001, he identified eight base emotions that humans feel when different environments affect our mood. These feelings then span into slightly different variations of the same emotion e.g. the difference between vigilance and interest.

The eight base emotions consist of:

  • Fear: The message is that something needs to change.
  • Anger: The message is to fight against problems.
  • Joy: The message is to remind us what is important.
  • Sadness: The message is to connect us with those we love.
  • Acceptance: The message is to open our hearts.
  • Disgust: The message is reject what is unhealthy.
  • Anticipation: The message is to look forward and plan.
  • Surprise: The message is to focus on new situations. (source)

How can technological advancements help students with SEL?

In this generation it is almost impossible to escape the vast range of technology available to children, students and even adults. Being healthy and academic isn’t enough for parents as they want their children to be happy, enjoy school and make friends. When students have problems socialising, technology can often assist in engaging them and encouraging them to build relationships with peers which then helps with situations that arise in later life.

If used correctly mobile devices can not only support student learning but also prepare them for their future careers. All of what we teach our children at a younger age then builds the foundations of our adult selves and helps us to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to manage emotions and stress when working in later life.

There is no one way to teach children, in fact, there are eight different learning styles and all of these can be managed through technology which is what makes EdTech such a brilliant resource. With the use of apps, video content and educational games we have already seen and will continue to see an increase in student’s productivity. A study in 2016 showed the drastic increase in engaged learning, learning more deeply and more collaboration since iPads were implemented into the classroom. (source)

What needs to change?

  • Regular staff training on the importance of SEL
  • Introduce technology into the classroom and increase use of apps, video content and educational games
  • Empower students to take charge of their own social and emotional learning
  • Teach protocols and procedures for handling challenging social situations
  • Constantly revisiting your incorporation tactics to find new, creative ways to integrate
  • Effectively communicate the value of SEL to parents and other educators
  • Continue to develop your own social and emotional intelligence

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