It’s hard to deny the positive impact social and emotional learning skills have on our lives, even anecdotally. I know that when given a smile or a nod of approval from someone I trust, I simply feel better. But beyond the warm and fuzzies, there is proof behind the influence of explicitly taught SEL skills for kids. Now how do we use edtech to teach SEL?
Social competence is one of the best predictors for future outcomes—both academic and non-academic. On average, SEL programs boost academic achievement by 11 points. Additionally, the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning found that SEL programs produce the following gains:
- 9% improvement in attitudes about self, others, and school
- 9% improvement in school and classroom behavior
- 9% decrease in conduct problems
- 10% decrease in emotional distress
I think every educator and parent can agree, these wins are in the best interest of our students. The question is, can digital technology play a positive role in teaching our students to play nice? When introduced correctly and worked through in phases, education technology can help give students the tools to effectively navigate their daily lives.
Prep: Find a resource that teaches the skills you’d like your students to have, then give them a short introduction to the resource so they know what to expect. Let them know the information they’ll see is not to test or lecture but to help them navigate both their internal dialogue and their relationships.
Learn: Scenario-based lessons are a great tool to expose students to situations that require strong mental health, whether that’s dealing with a bully, arguing with a friend or dealing with an internal struggle causing anxiety. As students work through simulations, they are confronted with situations that they identify with as well as some they may not have considered.
Reflect: As students are introduced to real-world scenarios without peer feedback and distraction, students are able to reflect on their true opinions. These belief and behavioral changes will affect the actions students will take once they are faced with a similar scenario in their daily lives.
Encourage students to start a personal journal for observations, questions and scenarios they have personally experienced.
Connect: An online resource can be useful to introduce concepts and give students a solitary time to reflect, both of which are building blocks for a rich classroom discussion. Now that students have had time to form their own opinions without peer influence, they are more equipped to engage in meaningful discussion with the group. To start, ask broad questions that entice students to share what they learned and their reactions to the material. As discussion continues, encourage students to react to their classmates and draw parallels between the resource and what they see at your school.
Nichole Holladay supports teachers in Arizona as a Schools Implementation Manager for EVERFI. She attended Colgate University, is a former pre-k teacher and enjoys researching childhood development. In her free time, Nichole loves exploring small towns in Arizona and swimming as much as possible.