Letters & Opinion

The Open School on Academic and Social-Emotional Learning

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

WELCOME students to another week in the Open School for the third and final term, the academic or school year 2022 to 2023. The school is open to parents, guardians, teachers, students and members of the public. It is my hope that students will acquire knowledge and skills which will enable them to improve on students’ academic and social and emotional learning.

Today’s lesson is the final in a two-part series on “Academic and Social Emotional Learning.” At the end of the lesson, students will be able to (1) Explain in their own words’ positive behaviour. (2) Give two ways in which a teacher or facilitator of learning could manage emotions.

In this article, the writer will continue to emphasize social-emotional learning as an important aspect of student achievement. Yes, we want our children, our students to achieve academically. However, the social and emotional factors greatly influence academic achievement.

In education, we often emphasize the importance of key stake-holders or interest groups in the educational processes.

The involvement of parents in partnerships with the school to promote students’ academic and social-emotional learning is likely to improve results.

When home and school collaborate closely to implement social-emotional learning programmes, students gain more and programme effects are more long-lasting and more widespread.

In our local as well as international communities, learners are bombarded with messages from various parts of the world. There is the internet and other social media platforms, such as Instagram, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Linkedin and more.

Additionally, these platforms allow learners to upload content, build profiles, connect with friends, enable conversations and communicate in real time. These outlets are not usually filtered by parents. That is, to vigorously assess the contents and remove unwanted material. And that could be extremely difficult for parents.

And with the advent of cell phones, that process could be more challenging. Parents, schools, the community and the larger society all agree that building student’s social emotional skills is an important common concern.

Now how can the school help parents accomplish emotionally intelligent parenting? The following are some ideas:

Teachers could give parents regular information on the academic and social-emotional skills students are learning at any given time.

Now coming back to social media; the systems could be used in very positive ways which could facilitate effective communication in education. I know of schools where classroom teachers have uploaded the names of parents of their students on the WhatsApp platform and send messages on the academic, social-emotional skills being taught.

Schools can give parents the opportunities to meet to exchange ideas about how to support the teaching in school and how to raise their children.

Schools can also help parents learn how to organize the morning routine and homework routine to minimize conflict.

Schools can also communicate to parents the importance of having positive times with their children, despite difficulties, in order to build the children’s sense of hope.

Schools can also provide parents with opportunities to contribute to the classroom and school on a regular basis.

Last, but not least, Schools can create a welcoming climate for parents in the school by displaying students art work and other projects.

Effective academic and socio-emotional instruction will result from well-planned professional development for all school personnel, including a system of support. School personnel should include professional as well as ancillary staff.

Indeed, the following are some suggestions which could aid the process:

Principals or the school management teams can provide high-quality staff development and support in social-emotional programmes and instructional procedures for carrying out social-emotional learning efforts.

The school principals and/or senior staff can form a committee that will be responsible for supporting programmes and instructional producers.

Indeed, evaluation is a major aspect of teaching and learning generally. However, evaluation of efforts to promote social- emotional learning is a serious responsibility. That includes on-going monitoring of instruction, assessing learning outcomes, and understanding opinions and reactions of those who carry out and receive the various efforts.

But how exactly can evaluation take place. A checklist to keep track of whether social-emotional learning activities that are planned actually take place.

Staff members should be given the opportunity to rate and or comment on the lessons that they carry out. The staff members should also note what went well and what might be improved in the future.

Schools should develop brief surveys of students and staff to find out what they liked most and least about the socio-emotional learning activities. Also, the opportunities that were provided to put the social-emotional skills use and ideas for improving instruction.

Finally, schools should place on students’ report cards or other feedback systems a list of socio-emotional learning skills or related indicators so that there could be accountability for this aspect of schooling and methods which were designed to improve instruction.

Now two questions for you: 1) Explain in your own words’ positive behaviour. (2) Give two ways in which a teacher or facilitator of learning could manage emotions.

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