Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a critical element for student success today—and it’s something that can benefit them both in and out of the classroom. In this Facebook Live from the 2019 Model Schools Conference, Dr. Bill Daggett—the founder of the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE)—spoke with Dr. Stephanie Jones, an SEL expert, to discuss how she develops effective methods to improve SEL in our schools and the challenges teachers may face when incorporating SEL into their curriculums.
EASEL Labs and the Importance of SEL
Dr. Jones, a developmental psychologist and researcher, is the director of the Ecological Approaches to Social Emotional Learning (EASEL) Labs, a program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. EASEL conducts large research studies related to social, emotional, and cognitive development, tracking families over long periods of time to find patterns in children’s development. It uses its findings to integrate SEL into school curriculums and classrooms.
Social-emotional learning, Dr. Jones said, is particularly important in early learning, as research shows it can be effective in primary intervention for mental health challenges that may arise in the future. Schools are one of the main sources of SEL in children’s lives, so it’s essential in classroom settings.
One of Dr. Jones’s biggest goals as an SEL researcher is to develop practical solutions for educators. When it comes to implementing SEL in schools, research suggests that certain methods are more effective than others, but many schools lack the resources to incorporate SEL. To better help students and educators everywhere, Dr. Jones wants her research to be as accessible as possible.
Research vs. Innovation
The challenge with SEL research, according to Dr. Daggett, is the struggle that can arise between previous research and innovation. Research may aim to find newer, effective methods, but those new ideas may be untested and unproven and may not hold the same credibility as more familiar methods.
“Innovation is building something new from something known,” Dr. Jones said during the Facebook Live. In her research, Dr. Jones tries to blend the “common denominators”—those aspects that seem to be the key to successfully integrating SEL—and then builds upon them. Innovation is a process of constant revision, she said, rather than one of constant upheaval.
Learn how to implement adaptable SEL strategies in your school and classroom during Dr. Stephanie Jones' Leadership Talk, “The Science and Practice of Social and Emotional Learning in Schools,” on August 21, 2019, at 7 PM ET. Register here and attend live for a chance to win a set of Carmen Sandiego novels for your library!
Does your school have a must-tell turnaround story? Are you making strides in student achievement and meeting several of these criteria? Do you have an innovative solution to a widespread challenge? We want to hear from you. Apply to present as a Model School or an Innovative District at next year's conference.