How do we navigate through the SEL jungle? Having agreed that now is the time to make this journey I can recommend these valuable resources from Strive Together and its Minnesota network partner, Generation Next.
Strive is fostering a network of communities building the civic infrastructure necessary to support the success of every child from cradle to career. It has developed a Student Roadmap to Success -- a framework to guide communities in supporting the development of young people from cradle to career to improve youth outcomes and eliminate the achievement gap.
The upper half of the visual representation of this roadmap is focused on academic benchmarks, and the lower half on student and family support benchmarks - including the development of social and emotional competence.
The problem for many communities using the road map, however, was getting a better sense of how to more explicitly name social and emotional competencies and effectively move them to the level of the other goals that focus on academic proficiency.
Recognizing the need for greater clarity on how social emotional competencies affect achievement and how these competencies can be measured and improved, Strive recently released a three-volume report, Beyond Content: Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning into the Strive Framework. It is a good entry point for anyone taking on social and emotional learning. It focuses on five competencies:
- Academic self-efficacy
- Growth mindset/mastery orientation
- Emotional competence
- Self-regulated learning/study skills.
The first volume describes these competencies and summarizes the evidence of their malleability and their relationship to academic achievement. The second volume provides a summary of different measures of social and emotional skills across the Cradle to Career continuum, and the third volume includes the actual surveys used to measure these skills.
Together these reports serve as resources for cross-sector education partners as they select which competencies to focus on and how to measure the effects of their efforts. This focus on measurement acknowledges the reality that the development of social and emotional competencies is much more likely to be prioritized if data show both the need for such focus and that such focus leads to measurable improvement.
Here in the Twin Cities, Generation Next, our local member of the nationwide Strive Network, recognizes the importance of developing social and emotional competencies. Their Noncognitive Task Force has recommended a sixth goal be added: "All seventh graders are socially and emotionally equipped to learn". This proposed goal refers to learning in and out of the classroom, and to persistence in learning. Like the others, this goal names a skill and names a grade for assessment.
While ambitious, this level of clarity gives our schools, out-of-school programs, community leaders, and families a clear goal for bridging the achievement gap. Reaching it may lead to better understanding of which skills to focus on and how to improve these critical outcomes for youth.
What is your reaction to this proposed goal? If it were accepted, would it help your work? How could you make it a visible part of your community's commitment to young people?
How would measuring social and emotional development enhance your work with youth? Is this a path through the jungle that makes sense to you?
-- Elizabeth Hagen, Graduate research assistant for the Howland Social and Emotional Learning Initiative, doctoral candidate in school psychology
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