Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, and research has shown that increased social and emotional proficiency is associated with reductions in a variety of problem behaviors.
Although social-emotional learning (SEL) tools have been implemented at different MISD campuses, the district formed a SEL department last year to create a more uniform and intentional way of improving school climate and student engagement.
“When a student feels safe and a student feels happy, a student is going to be more successful,” said Karrye Aquino, MISD’s SEL facilitator. “And if we can get to kids when they’re really young, and we can make them feel safe, we can help them manage their emotions. They’re going to be a more effective student and, ultimately, be a more successful citizen.”
SEL is the set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors involved in understanding and managing emotions, setting positive goals, feeling empathy for others, engaging in positive relationships and solving problems effectively.
Teachers and staff members receive SEL training year-round to help meet the holistic needs of children. The latest session was held Jan. 22-23, which focused on relationship skills.
“Relationships are the foundation for social-emotional learning, and I want our teachers to walk away today knowing that relationship building is something that we support and that we know will help students learn more effectively,” she said.
Aquino added that a big misconception associated with social-emotional learning is that it’s a program. She said SEL is a culture and way of operating that has to be deliberately taught throughout an organization.
Staff members who attended the training said it helped remind them that students are individual people who have their own individual needs.
“It’s so refreshing to be in a district that understands the importance of honing in on student’s feelings, knowing how their feeling and asking how I can make them feel better,” said Brittney Howell, teacher at Willie E. Brown Academy of Young Scholars. “I feel like that’s the foundation before you can even start the learning process with the students.”
Mansfield ISD’s SEL department works year-round to develop and enhance the self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work and life success.
More information about the MISD social-emotional learning is available on the department's web page.