Overcoming SEL resistance can lead to more effective programs
- Metro Nashville Public Schools has been working for six years to implement social emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom, but some skeptical parents and teachers opposed the efforts in the beginning, Edutopia reports.
- Despite the skeptics, a 2011 metaanalysis of over 270,000 students found that those who participated in an SEL program showed academic gains of more than 11 percentile points over non-participating peers; and a 2015 study on the economics of SEL revealed an $11 long-term economic gain for every $1 spent on rigorous SEL programs in schools.
- Addressing misconceptions about the SEL efforts, such as the idea that discipline is non-existent, can help improve the community's acceptance of SEL and convince teachers that SEL can benefit them as well.
SEL is gaining traction in school districts across the county despite some practical and philosophical opposition. As more research is presented about the benefits of SEL and the development of emotional intelligence, more people are beginning to feel that SEL works. Often opposition comes when the initiative is brought in too quickly, without adequate explanations and input from school stakeholders. However, by working with parents and teachers up front, many of these opponents can be converted into proponents of the process.
Giving parents the resources they need to understand the SEL can clear up much of the confusion and misconceptions. Ideally, since SEL applies to all aspects of life, parents can learn to incorporate these strategies at home as well. Once parents see how social emotional learning and emotional intelligence are playing greater roles in workplace success, they may come to see the long-term benefits of the strategies.
Teachers also require adequate preparation and professional development before they are required to ditch old strategies in favor of SEL practices. They also need to see how such practices connect to them. In “To Reach the Students, Teach the Teachers,” from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the authors noted: “As researchers and advocates for social and emotional learning (SEL), we sometimes hear that educators don’t 'have time' for SEL because it’s something 'new' or it’s an 'add-on.' Increasingly, however, after CASEL’s 22 years of defining, exploring, and implementing SEL in a variety of settings, it’s clear to us that, far from being an add-on, SEL is essential for good teaching… If teachers are not aware of their own social and emotional development and are not taught effective instructional practices for SEL, they are less likely to educate students who thrive in school, careers, and life.”