Children bring an enormous amount of competencies with them to school, but the extent to which those competencies play themselves out depends on the environment. Over the past 12 years St. Andrew’s has worked diligently to fully integrate a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum in grades 1-6. We are intentional in creating a culture and climate that is respectful, safe, and challenging. Our faculty has received extensive training under the Director of Social and Emotional Learning and they are committed to establishing a learning environment in which all children develop their full potential.
Imagine a school where STUDENTS have a strong sense of belonging, feel safe to discuss concerns with teachers and peers, are equipped to problemsolve on the playground, are confident to share ideas and receive honest feedback, are engaged in the learning process, are comfortable taking risks, and experience value in giving back; where TEACHERS collaborate with one another, are passionate about teaching the whole child, share in decision-making, and create partnerships with parents; and where PARENTS are welcomed to participate in school activities, are encouraged to communicate openly with teachers and administration, and are a valued for their own expertise. This is what Social and Emotional Learning practices bring to a St. Andrew’s education.
SEL is a way a child develops the ability to experience, regulate and express emotions, form close, secure relationships; explore the environment; and learn. It is the process of helping children develop these fundamental skills for life effectiveness:
- Self-Awareness: Recognizing our emotions, values, strengths, and challenges.
- Self–Management: Managing emotions and behaviors to achieve a goal.
- Social Awareness: Showing understanding and empathy for others.
- Relationship Skills: Forming positive relationships, working in teams, and dealing effectively with conflict.
- Responsible Decision Making: Making ethical, constructive choices about personal and social behavior.
It’s simple-emotions affect how and what we learn. When students feel safe, connected and engaged in their community, they are more successful and effective learners, and exhibit fewer risk behaviors. Strong scientific evidence demonstrates that increased student connection to school improves:
- Attitude-motivation and commitment
- Behavior-participation and Study habits
- Performance-grades and subject mastery
Becoming socially and emotionally literate also helps bring success to every part of our students’ lives—setting goals, persevering in the face of frustration or setbacks, handling peer pressure, being able to say “no,” or standing tall when experiencing a challenging situation.
At St. Andrew’s we believe in creating a learning environment in which all children can develop their full potential.
The SEL program is linked to developmental milestones, and is fully integrated into the curriculum beginning in first grade. In the Lower school, we employ the Responsive Classroom approach. We use developmentally appropriate teaching practices along with techniques to integrate social and academic learning. The Responsive Classroom approach rests on seven guiding principles:
- The social and academic curricula are equally important.
- How children learn is as important as what they learn.
- Social interaction facilitates cognitive growth.
- Children need to learn cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control if they are to be successfully socially and academically.
- Knowing children individually, culturally, and developmentally is essential to good teaching.
- Knowing children’s families is essential to good teaching.
- The working relationship among adults in school are critically important to how well children learn.
- Daily morning meeting: Designed to create a sense of community and provide opportunities to practice academic and pro-social skills.
- Community Time: Students work on selected SEL skills and problem-solve relevant topics on a weekly basis.
- Integration into Academic Curriculum: SEL skills are layered into established curriculum, such as group work in math, peer editing in language arts, teamwork in science lab, or book discussion groups.
- Discipline System: Students are given opportunities to resolve conflicts, take responsibility for actions, and make amends for their mistakes.
- Use of Common Language: Teachers use similar language to support students in becoming “self-managers.”
- Chapel Themes: Students address moral and spiritual development, such as fairness, personal strength, and citizenship.
- Community Service: Students participate in opportunities which reinforce good citizenship and community awareness through service.
- Specific Skill Building Groups and Lunches: For students who need extra support these groups meet weekly to practice skills with our Director of SEL or the Lower School Counselor.
- Ethics class: Led by our Lower School counselor, students are engaged in discussing dilemmas and taking different
perspectives through literature.
- Diversity Initiative: Students have numerous opportunities to connect to the rich cultural traditions in our community through special services, learning opportunities in class, Prejudice Awareness Summit, Diversity Leadership Conference and Student Diversity Clubs at the Upper School.
- Mentor Programs: 5th and 6th grade students build character by engaging in opportunities to mentor younger
students while developing personal skills.
- Honor Codes: Students and faculty worked together on each campus to develop an honor code that holds students accountable for creating a safe and respectful environment and exhibiting academic integrity.
- Middle School Advisory Program: School Advisors serve as mentors and advocates for 7th and 8th students, addressing key issues such as peer pressure and relationships.
- Upper School Health and Wellness: Includes advisory program, Human Development Classes, psychological support through our Upper School counselor.
- Parent Peer Group Meetings: Parents meet to share ideas and support around issues related to parental challenges, such as Internet use, peer relations, and friendship.
- Brown Bag Lunch: Parents meet during the lunch hour to learn more specifically about school initiatives, such as the discipline system, nutrition, and academics.
- Speakers’ Series: Features notable speakers on relevant issues in raising children.
- Division Head Gatherings: Parents have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns with the heads, relevant to each division.
Children develop at their own unique pace, but there are common characteristics of social and emotional development at each age. At St. Andrew’s we’ve created a SEL curriculum that takes into account these developmental stages and milestones while honoring the individuality that each child brings to our community. Specific skills and strategies are taught at each grade level and are designed to be built upon from year to year.
- FIRST: Identify and naming emotions in self and others, making friends, empathy, problem-solving, active listening, impulse control, personal responsibility, anger buttons.
- SECOND: Identifying feelings in self and others, joining a group, decision-making, recognizing individual strengths and challenges, working in partnerships, self-talk.
- THIRD: Identifying physical manifestations of feelings, conflicting feelings, learning styles, negotiation, acceptance of differences, leadership skills, and compassion.
- FOURTH: Managing strong feelings, dealing with triangular friendships, understanding body language, conflict resolution, strategies for learning, personal reflection.
- FIFTH: Communicating feelings, relationships with family and friends, effective teamwork, fairness, dealing with gossip, goal-setting, understanding consequences.
- SIXTH: Identifying, expressing, and listening to emotions, positive and negative friendships, peer pressure, independence, awareness and management of strong feelings.