When developing our current District Strategic Plan, individuals and focus groups shared the areas they wanted the district to focus on and emphasize. The need for a diverse staff, strong financial stability, excellent academics, and a sense of belonging-for-all were common themes in those conversations. Additionally, stakeholders emphasized the need for social emotional learning (SEL).
Our stakeholders understand the importance of these skills and this is backed by research. Hundreds of studies demonstrate that SEL leads to beneficial outcomes related to: social and emotional skills; attitudes about self, school, and civic engagement; social behaviors; conduct problems; emotional distress; and academic performance.
Recognizing the importance of these outcomes, we developed a guaranteed and viable SEL curriculum from kindergarten through twelfth grade in 2019. While the state has established academic standards for core and elective subjects, school districts around the country have looked to the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) for key standards in social emotional learning. This organization has developed the CASEL 5 for key areas of emphasis, which include: self awareness, self management, responsible decision making, social awareness, and relationship skills.
All students in Westside Community Schools, Kindergarten through 12th grade, learn about these areas and practice positive social and emotional regulation skills during school. Westside is proud to prioritize the teaching of these important life skills for all learners by finding time within the school day at each level and offering curriculum guidance and resources at each grade level.
Students at the elementary level participate in the highly rated Second Step social and emotional learning program during class each week, which is typically on Wednesday afternoons. Students at the Middle School receive weekly Second Step lessons during their homeroom advisory time, while students at the High School receive SEL instruction delivered by school counselors during counseling seminar courses for one quarter each year.
This presentation includes examples of what classroom SEL instruction looks like at selected grade levels: Kindergarten, second grade, fourth grade, sixth grade, eighth grade, and high school.