Parents, students issue 'call to action' documents on SEL
- Parents want educators who view students through their strengths instead of their weaknesses, and they want to be involved in schools’ efforts to connect academic learning to students’ social-emotional development — those were among the “calls to action” that a 15-member parent advisory panel presented Friday during a Washington event organized by The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.
- The 18 members of the youth commission, who developed a similar document, say that they want schools to be “welcoming, physical spaces,” and they think the curriculum in every class, every day should connect to the real world and that there should be tighter connections between schools and the programs and activities they participate in outside of school. “Everything we do in a day contributes to our social, emotional and academic growth,” they write. “For you to help us grow as whole people, you must consider our whole day.”
- The gathering in Washington was a chance for parents and students to weigh in on the efforts to increase attention to social-emotional learning in schools and was another step in the commission’s work as it prepares to make a final report later this year.
“Imagine … if every child went to school feeling safe and valued, challenged, welcomed, on a path to becoming knowledgeable, responsible and caring," Tim Shriver, co-chair of the commission, said to open the event. "Imagine if we joined forces and created the kind of groundswell for change in our schools that our young people are demanding. We’re here to celebrate that young people are claiming their moment."
The youth commission’s document stated that schools should have a process for allowing students to resolve conflicts and that every staff member, including security officers, should understand that process. Members of the parent advisory panel also recommended weaving social, emotional and academic learning into events for families. “Offering families opportunities to understand and develop the same types of competencies as their kids ensures a consistent family-school approach to building these skills,” they write.
While many of the statements made by both the students and the parents are expected, the documents give education leaders at the local level a guide for how to address the development of social-emotional learning programs and a way to start conversations with students and families about what is important to them.
"It's a partnership," Diana Limongi, a member of the parent advisory panel from Astoria, NY, said during the event. "What happens in school, kids bring back home. What happens at home, our kids bring into school."
- Aspen Institute Youth and Family Calls to Action
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