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Social-Emotional Learning: A Responsive Classroom Approach

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Social-Emotional Learning: A Responsive Classroom Approach

Friday, September 27, 2019

At Fay, we endeavor to grow not just academically strong students, but future leaders of the world.  We know that to accomplish this, our social-emotional curriculum must be as rigorous as our academic curriculum.  To share their academic learning with others, students need to make responsible decisions, communicate, and collaborate.  That’s where social-emotional skills and learning comes in!

What is social-emotional learning?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing self-awareness, self-control, social awareness, and relationship skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.  According to the Committee for Children, “people with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially.  From effective problem-solving to self-discipline, from impulse control to emotional management and more, SEL provides the foundation for positive, long term effects on kids, adults, and communities.” Being in a school with a strong SEL emphasis is positively correlated with higher academic achievement.  When students feel safe and loved, they are ready to learn.  When they feel a true sense of belonging to a community, they are willing to take academic risks that result in greater learning. 

How is SEL taught at The Fay School?

Fay embeds SEL into everything we do.  It’s in the positive words our teachers choose when they talk to students about their choices.  It‘s in the way our classrooms are set up for children to have spaces to collaborate.  Our entire faculty at  Fay has completed four days of Responsive Classroom training.  During this in-service, teachers focused on the four domains of 21st-century teacher skills: engaging academics, effective management, positive community, and developmental awareness.  Responsive Classroom is a set of practices that guide our learning community through arrival, academics, special classes, transitions, lunch, recess, and dismissal.   The biggest effect of the Responsive Classroom approach is a joyful, caring, and respectful community.   Research from the University of Virginia shows that using the Responsive Classroom approach is correlated with improved social skills, more positive teacher-student interactions as well as increased positive feelings about school among students and teachers. 

What is Morning Meeting?

Fay Social Emotional Learning

One of the most visible aspects of a Responsive Classroom is Morning Meeting.  Each morning teachers prepare a message to the class, giving them a sneak peek into the school day ahead and allowing students to sign in by responding to a question posed at the end of the message.  During Morning Meeting, every student is greeted individually by another student.  The daily greeting is a process through which children feel seen and important.  Then there is a share time where children express opinions, feelings, and ideas about a topic presented by the teacher.  The final component of a morning meeting is an activity.  Ending the meeting with a fun, sometimes academic, sometimes silly game builds a sense of the community among the students.  When this is firmly in place, students feel empowered to problem-solve together, to support each other, and work together.  With Morning Meeting, it only takes a few minutes each morning to set and achieve a positive tone for the whole day. 

How does a community like this impact our students in the future?

The world is changing rapidly.  People are more interconnected than ever before.  Educators have no way of knowing how to prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist, but we do know some of the skills they will likely need to be successful.  At Fay, we teach children to be team players, problem solvers, and critical thinkers.  Through instilling safe and joyful classroom climates, creating calm and orderly learning environments, designing engaging instruction, and being responsive to our students’ needs, we are setting our students up for success in this day, in middle school, and beyond. 

About Melissa and Ross: As Principal and Dean of Students, Melissa and Ross start each day by participating in a Morning Meeting, investing in the culture that makes The Fay School a special place for students and teachers.  Melissa and Ross can often be found hatching plans and sauntering through Fay’s forest, sometimes at the same time!