On-site SEL advocates would benefit students, argues Rutgers professor
Every student should be provided with a social-emotional and academic liaison, Maurice J. Elias, director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, writes for Edutopia.
Social-emotional and academic development (SEAD} liaisons could help provide communication between schools and parents, take responsibility for tracking student progress and noting early warning signals, and provide triage by connecting needy students with appropriate professionals.
Schools would benefit by losing less instructional time, having less stress on teachers and by reducing the need for highly specialized services, Elias says.
Social-emotional learning is quickly gaining importance as a necessary aspect of educating the whole child. However, the demands of this focus can create an added burden for teachers or school counselors who are already overwhelmed by the sheer number of students they must serve.
Many school counselors are more committed than ever to focusing on social-emotional development as part of a three-pronged approach that also includes impacting academic performance and career development. They are also finding ways to use data to help demonstrate the value of social-emotional learning. Some recent studies indicate that SEL initiatives improve skills necessary for academic performance in addition to fostering healthier social outcomes.
While most educators see the value of social-emotional learning, the problem of effective implementation comes down, as it always does, to cost. The idea of having an on-site SEAD advocate is enticing, but the cost of the position would inevitably reduce expenditures in other areas that many consider equally as important. In school districts where the advocacy position is unfunded, administrators may try farming out some paper work responsibilities to allow current teachers and counselors more time to engage in the important social-emotional aspects of the teaching craft.