Chicago school revamps model to focus on personalized, social-emotional learning
- To help address low teacher morale, CICS West Belden in Chicago has shifted to a personalized learning model that incorporates elements of social-emotional learning, including individualized learner profiles and a competency-based model.
- The charter school's physical space was redesigned with flexible furniture and a greater focus on students doing independent work using academic software programs.
- A new social-emotional learning strategy was also put into place, organized around the acronym "PRIDE," which focuses on the skills the school looks to develop in students: Problem Solving, Responsibility, Integrity, Drive and Empathy.
During the past few years more educators have indicated that social-emotional learning is of importance to them, and they are seeking to incorporate its tenets into practice. At its core, the practice seeks to build resilience and independence in students by focusing on so-called soft skills, including decision-making, self-awareness and the ability to better communicate needs to peers and adults.
Evaluating how students learn such skills has been a thorny problem for schools, as they do not translate as well to formal assessments. (Student surveys have been one method schools have used to gauge progress.) But one of the main barriers to entry for implementing SEL has been teacher training, with teachers often noting that they lack the strategies to implement SEL programs and mentor students effectively.