SWANTON — Over the course of the last several months, educators from member schools within the Missisquoi Valley School District worked to create a set of standards and learning outcomes in the domain of student and adult social-emotional learning (SEL).
This comprehensive guide, which is the first of it’s kind to be created in Vermont, outlines a variety of life-long skills that address many of the overarching competencies and traits that help students and adults find success in school, work and life.
As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading organization for SEL research and policy, social-emotional learning is “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
The overarching aim of SEL programming in schools is to not only develop a student’s emotional intelligence and awareness, but also to improve academic and behavioral outcomes by creating safe, supportive, and engaging learning environments.
“These competencies are an important first step to helping our students become healthier and more successful members of the community,” said MVSD Superintendent Julie Regimbal. “I am proud to be a part of a district that has the vision and the commitment to support the social-emotional growth of all our students.”
MVU Director of Student Affairs Steve Messier says that they have known for some time that a quality education is no longer exclusive to math and literacy skills.
“A meaningful and enriching educational experience that supports life-long learning must include the development of social-emotional skills,” Messier said. “SEL is the building block of all learning, and the guide that our district team has created will help further this work in our schools.”
As educators across the state and country feel the urgency of addressing students’ social and emotional development, the MVSD guide is unique in that it not only outlines the specific competencies that students should attain at various development stages, but also provides educators with practical and research-based teaching strategies that can help weave SEL into everyday instruction.
To that end, all MVSD school board members, administrators, teachers, and support staff participated in a variety of professional development opportunities related to the guide and created SEL-focused lesson plans during the annual August in-service.
By not only addressing student needs, but also including the skills and attributes that adults should also be striving for, MVSD looks to further enhance school environments that prompt the social connections and emotional well-being of all members of MVSD schools.
As this work takes root in classrooms and schools across the district, a community roll-out focused on the enhancement of home-school partnerships will take place in the weeks and months ahead.