From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (July 2017 Newsletter):

In last month’s newsletter, we shared research findings telling us that Social Emotional Learning (SEL), or as Education Transformations calls it, Relational Competency, is now considered important enough to be taught to some degree in most schools around the country. I believe it is time to make Relational Competency a TOP priority in our classrooms across our nation. What if we start to teach and develop self-awareness, managing emotions, and building relationships in students, with the same attention and focus that we place on math and reading?

One problem is research also showed that even though it’s considered important, teachers have little or no preparation for developing relationship and communication skills in their students. Ideally, teachers should be prepared to address SEL with their students during their certification coursework and student teaching. I believe things are moving in that direction. The next generation of teachers are likely to be better equipped for this crucial undertaking. As with the new STEM standards and expectations that require training and support, so it is that Relational Competency also requires training and support for education professionals to increase their capacity to teach their students effectively.

With growing concerns about bullying behavior and divisiveness emerging within our culture, and reflected in our schools and classrooms, I don’t think we can wait for only the new teachers to be taught how teach SEL. I know that most everyone, adults and children alike, can learn Relational Competency. AND teachers and administrators need to learn first. Once the learning begins, the skills become immediately useable. The more you use them, the better able you are to relate to others, and the more inclined you become to continue using the skills. This becomes a formula for life-long learning. Students and teachers can continue to learn together to improve their relationships with each other, and by extension, with their family members.

In considering the urgency of the need for Social Emotional Learning, we decided to offer two extracurricular opportunities this summer for teachers and others to further develop their relationship skills.  Please keep in mind that if you choose to make this investment in yourself, you will reap benefits well beyond the classroom, as ALL your relationships will improve. We had one teacher participant share with us that she believed what she just learned in the “Transforming Classroom & School Cultures” workshop might have just saved her marriage! So take advantage of this opportunity to start your new fall school year better prepared than ever to build powerful and effective relationships with the children in your life!

What do you think? I invite comments, suggestions and opinions. Please tell us how you feel.