Weekly Shares (3-26-23) – Some thoughts about SEL

Last week’s post had a link to a VOX article on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools and the attack on SEL by some conservative politicians.  The fact of the matter is that this pushback against SEL has been coming from both Democrats and Republicans and it has been going on for the last couple of years as the Hechinger Report pointed out last year.  A survey conducted by the Fordham Institute in 2021 was highlighted in an article titled How to Sell SEL: Parents and the Politics of Social-Emotional Learning and found the following from parents of both Democrats and Republicans:

“…schools should spend their time and money on academic catch-up, not on SEL…close to two-thirds of Republicans and more than half of Democrats said there is not enough time in the day to teach both academics and SEL.”

Interestingly, the work that many schools have undertaken over the last few decades to support the “whole child” is now being questioned when it’s called SEL, but the individual components of SEL work are hard to question you pull the apart and detach the acronym. The five social-emotional skills that are at the core of SEL work are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.  

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has a toolkit called Leading With SEL that summarizes the goals which you can download here. The guide highlights three core messages about SEL:

  1. Social and emotional learning improves academic achievement.
  2. Social and emotional learning builds lifelong, future-ready skills that allow children to pursue their hopes and dreams.
  3. Social and emotional learning is a critical layer of prevention for children’s mental wellness.

The research is clear about the improved academic outcomes in schools where SEL is prioritized.  It is important that we continue to engage in conversations within our school communities that distinguish the facts about SEL work and how it leads to better outcomes for all students. In addition, as was touched upon last week, the importance of teaching students to ask questions like “who is doing what in the storyline and why?” has never been more important.

I couldn’t help but think of the quote from Chris Lehmann, the phenomenal leader of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia who discussed the key factors we need in order to have quality schools and led with the point that “we teach kids, not subjects.”

Some things I read this week that have me thinking

Julian Condie on Creating Innocent Classrooms – This ASCD article by Julian Condie highlights the work of Alexs Pate on creating a more Innocent Classroom for all students. The work of Pate is centered on three key concepts: 1. Innocence, 2. Guilt, and 3. Good. 

The three key concepts are summarized as follows: 

Guilt –  the cumulative impact of negative stereotypes, negative narratives, negative iconography that end up impacting the attitudes and behaviors of a child, but also of the people in that relationship with that child. 

Innocence – the opposite experience (of guilt), where a child is free of those narratives and experiences the freedom to just be.

Good – the journey of understanding the “good” in a child takes the shape of, What is that child asking for from their humanity, from other people in that relationship with them?

The article ends with a reminder for educators looking to do this work. “If you want to make sure you’re taking steps toward being an Innocent Classroom educator, know that you can’t walk away from any kid.”

How to tell if a film or TV Show is antiracist

From the Boston Globe’s Emancipator, this article by Dr. Phillipe Copeland, the lead for education and training at the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, developed a test to see if stories about racism are antiracist. He outlined the following criteria:

  • Racism is portrayed as a systemic issue and not just as blatant acts of discrimination, bigotry or hatred by White people.
  • People of color are portrayed as fully human, not reduced to stereotypes or victims.
  • White people are portrayed as working in solidarity with people of color, not just as villains or saviors

I am thinking this would be a good way to view our K-12 classroom libraries and/or curricula to ensure that we are offering an antiracist perspective for our students.

Equity Audits – Who’s Going to Check Them?

Also from the Boston Globe’s Emancipator, this article highlighted the dramatic increase in equity audits by organizations over the past few years. The authors feel that equity audits need to have some form of standardization to be truly effective and note that “no such methodology or tool exists.”

They make the assertion that “well-defined guiding principles can better position companies interested in promoting racial equity through audits” and outline the following guiding principles:

  • Routine assessment by an external party
  • Tailoring racial equity audits to meet needs and growth
  • Using different methods to gather intel
  • Analyzing information across functions
  • Be transparent

Women across Iran are refusing to wear headscarves, in open defiance of the regime

An interesting read on the ongoing show of protest by many Iranian women who are no longer wearing their headscarves as a sign of protest against their authoritarian government. A quote from one woman has me pondering the right to bodily freedoms in this country that are being threatened and what could be next:

“I don’t want you to think that now that we don’t have the hijab, there is freedom,” said the 63-year-old woman who was walking with her daughter. “No, there isn’t freedom. This is just our way of showing our dissent. The government might try. But the society will not ever go back because we have suffered so much and we have become so brave.”

Should the US ban TikTok? Can it? A cybersecurity expert explains the risks the app poses and the challenges to blocking it

A little background on the controversy facing Tik Tok and discussions in Washington about whether this app could be banned from the United States. A short quote from the article:

“If most apps collect data, why is the U.S. government worried about TikTok? First, they worry about the Chinese government accessing data from its 150 million users in the U.S. There is also a concern about the algorithms used by TikTok to show content.”

Antisemitic incidents at an all-time high in Massachusetts and across the country

This article from WGBH highlights the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) report on anti-semitic incidents across the state and country over the past year and it is not surprising to see that we are in unprecedented times when it comes to antisemitic-related assaults, harassment and vandalism across the country. Also, Massachusetts ranked sixth in the nation in the number of such acts. There were 152 incidents fueled by hatred against Jewish people in 71 cities and towns across the state. 

Some things I heard/watched this week that have me thinking

So you began your event with an Indigenous land acknowledgment. Now what?

This episode of NPR’s All Things Considered touched on the importance of Tribal Land Acknowledgements and ensuring that these are more than performative. As one guest on the episode noted on the topic:

“We’re just here for a brief time,” Dooley said. “And the way we can really honor our opportunity to live wherever we live is to acknowledge and honor the people that came before us.”

The Women Behind the Montgomery Bus Boycott : Code Switch : NPR

This episode of NPR’s Code Switch gave a first-hand account of the Montogomery, Alabama bus boycotts by sharing the voices and stories of the women behind this turning point in our country’s history.

Should the US ban TikTok? Can it? A cybersecurity expert explains the risks the app poses and the challenges to blocking it

Some of My Best Friends Are – The Jeffersons vs. Sanford & Son

This episode of this weekly podcast dove into two popular sitcoms from the 1970’s and talks about how the shows handled issues of race and class. There is also a discussion about how these shows would be received today… It was interesting to look back and hear clips from a couple of the episodes of these shows which I watched as re-runs in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

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