Friends giving high fives

What is SEL?
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) 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.

Framework for Systemic Social and Emotional Learning
The following SEL practices will be the focus across the network:

Cooperation skills are essential in today’s collaborative school and environments. Through the use of interactive exercises, NICE equips teachers with the ability to create cooperative learning classrooms where students work together for a purpose, fostering interdependence among students, collective problem solving, and shared goals. This approach has positive effects on students’ learning by catering to different learning styles and preparing students for personal and professional success.

Communication skills are fundamental to productive interactions. Teachers will be able to support and maximize students’ ability to express complex ideas and emotions, they will be able to teach students to separate difference of opinion from personal attack, helping them learn to express themselves while maintaining respect for others, and minimizing defensiveness among peers. This will create safe classroom environments where students become more comfortable with self-expression and will be more motivated to explore new concepts and engage in dialogue.Affirmation builds on cooperation and communication to help participants feel positive about themselves and others. NICE’s approach validates each individual’s contribution and highlights strengths and commonalities. Educators can use check-in activities, opening and closing ceremonies every day or every class. These rituals create a sense of routine and emotional caring that can help students transition from the chaos of the hallways to the more focused and intentional learning environment of the classroom.

Conflict resolution principles frame conflict as an expected, natural part of life and a pathway to growth, learning, and connection. NICE conflict resolution activities help participants expand their “toolbox” of strategies for responding to conflict; teachers will both learn these skills and how to bring them into the classroom and pass them on to their students. Having a system for conflict resolution in place for the classroom can have several benefits: it will reduce the amount and intensity of the conflicts that occur, it will help students build useful skills to solve their own problems, and it will promote a deeper sense of community among students.

Bias Awareness and Bullying Prevention and Intervention is key in understanding and responding to conflict. NICE activities create a safe environment in which participants explore and celebrate their cultures; examine personal, cultural, and institutional forms of bias; and develop strategies to effectively respond to bias. Bullying prevention and intervention: Participants learn definitions of types of bullying behaviors including physical bullying, name calling, relational aggression and many types of cyberbullying. Sessions include practice in responding to various bullying situations. The interrelationship between bias and bullying is examined.

Creative problem-solving skills enable participants to generate creative solutions to conflict. In addition to learning to develop social contracts within classroom communities, teachers will effectively address the inevitable infractions of community agreements by finding creative solutions to classroom problems. Educators will model and help develop self-control in emotionally charged situations and they will guide the use of effective communication.

Mediation: NICE’s training will equip teachers with the ability to educate students in how to describe what they feel and want, take in the perspective of others, generate options that are mutually acceptable solutions, and select options that are mutually convenient and/or acceptable. The classroom community learns to deal with conflict constructively, thoughtfully, and deliberately; these advanced skills contribute to a more peaceful, cooperative and focused student learning environment.

Restorative Practices: Teachers will understand the range of restorative practices being used in schools, when to apply them, and how they help with classroom management. Key points: (1) Restorative practices assist with social-emotional learning and reduce classroom disruption; (2) Developing deeper relationships with and among students provides a solid basis for creative problem solving; (3) Empowering students to take ownership in the classroom helps them to take ownership throughout the school community (and beyond).

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Teachers will understand how the various cultural backgrounds of their students play into students’ motivation and thinking processes in the classroom.  By acknowledging and embracing these cultural differences, teachers will begin to create an equitable classroom culture where all learners are engaged. Participants will learn more about their own and other cultures and, learn more about types of bias they have experienced and learn from others’ stories about how different biases are similar and different.