Educators continue SEL support during coronavirus closures

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Dive Brief:

  • Administrators continue to make social-emotional learning a priority despite the distance due to coronavirus school closures, District Administration reports. Jeffrey Solan, superintendent of Connecticut’s Cheshire Public Schools, and his team of principals are reaching out to students, families and teachers to check in during this time of upheaval.
  • Cheshire’s school counselors are communicating with students through one-on-one remote sessions, online and by phone. Seniors are particularly affected, Solan said, so he is personally reaching out to them.
  • Online connections has been a lifeline for kids in Tennessee’s Hamilton County Schools, according to Neelie Park, chief schools officer. But administrators there are urging teachers to go easy on themselves and not expect online teaching to go smoothly from the start. And at Colorado’s Jeffco Public Schools, the social-emotional learning group and mental health professionals are creating ways for teachers to help students and families deal with their new learning environment.

Dive Insight:

Even during stable times, social-emotional learning helps students connect. Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, urges students to engage with each other, regardless of whether its in person or online. Skills like social awareness and self-management can be practiced online if students act as they would in person and know that their online relationships impact their offline lives.

Now that students are spending more time online, educators can guide them in understanding that human connections can be lost or amplified. One person’s opinion voiced online can feel like they have the weight of the entire world behind them.

Maurice Elias, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University, refers to this phenomena as the “myth of the imagined audience.” But by developing SEL skills, students can learn to restrain from sending potentially harmful messages online, and message receivers can learn to take the message for what it really is: one person’s thought.

Stephanie Fredrick, associate director of Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, said social media can improve SEL skills as it can provide places for higher levels of empathy and social support.

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