Witnessing the value of social-emotional learning (SEL) over the course of the last decade, SEL has quickly become the topic of online education discussion groups, teaching manuals and scholastic articles the world over.
As the name suggests, SEL is the process through which students learn to identify and manage feelings and emotions, both individually and in group settings. By heightening emotional intellect through SEL practices early on, students are more capable of developing relationships, communicating feelings, and empathizing with others throughout the course of their individual educations.
Social-emotional learning has also been linked to increased student self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and responsible decision making.
Research to support
A study of over 270,000 K-12 students conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois concluded that those immersed in social-emotional learning programs averaged an 11-percentile-point gain in academic achievement. These students also demonstrated improved behavior, attitudes, and overall social and emotional skill sets.
In another study conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, experts discovered that students who attended schools with strong social and emotional environments were 10 times more likely to show improvement in math and reading scores.
Social and emotional competence can also increase student high school graduation rates, college enrollment, community involvement, and overall career success.
Addressing student mental health
Much of the emphasis surrounding SEL practices stems from an increasing need for addressing student mental health.
Analyzing data from 2020 and the year prior, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that mental health related visits to the emergency room increased by 31% for students ages 12 to 17. Additionally, CDC surveillance data concluded that 1 in 3 high school students reported feelings of persistent sadness and depression.
Researchers with the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP) determined that students who were provided with continual social-emotional learning opportunities showed significantly better outcomes regarding mental health. Evaluating the academic and civic performance of nearly 600 multiethnic students over the course of a 15-year period, the SSDP found that students who developed social and emotional skills beginning in the first grade displayed less signs of anxiety, less social phobia and PTSD, and fewer thoughts of suicide.
As social-emtional learning practices continue to gain popularity nationwide, many states have created webpages specific to SEL instruction viewable through their department of education homepages. Much of the content on these webpages stems from the The Office of Elementary & Secondary Education which offers numerous resources for teachers to implement better social and emotional learning within their classrooms.
Additionally, many states have allocated large portions of federal aid toward SEL programs in the wake of Covid-19. Using funds designated specifically to in-person learning through Assembly and Senate Bill 86, the California Department of Education hopes to conduct SEL trainings for teachers and staff, expand mental health service programs, and provide more summer and after-school programs centered on social and emotional development.
Boosting social and emotional competency with ConexED
The ConexED solution centers on connection. By providing easy access and navigation to student services online and in-person, schools can accelerate social-emotional learning opportunities regardless of location.
The success of SEL programs is contingent on high-quality interactions between students and teachers. The ConexED platform helps educators meet their students in a way that eliminates barriers and ensures privacy, safety and security using HIPAA and FERPA compliance standards.
Effective social-emotional learning is also contingent on providing opportunities for conversation with qualified professionals. Using the “Open Door” chat feature, students can locate the contact cards for their institution’s mental health personnel and support staff. This not only empowers students to seek support, but consolidates messaging to one secure location. These student records provide vital insight into the student experience and ensure continuity of student health care from enrollment to graduation.
Using ConexED, teachers can facilitate classroom discussions to an entire group, or concentrate on students individually using breakout rooms as part of the new Persistent Presence feature. When transitioning between individuals using Persistent Presence, other students online have visibility of the instructor just as they would in-person. However, when an instructor meets individually with one student in a breakout room, audio is restricted for everyone else. This ensures private conversations between teachers and students while still enabling others in the classroom the opportunity to access the teacher/moderator via chat or the “raise hand” icon when assistance is needed.
This revolutionary software not only promotes engagement with school leadership, but one another as well. Educators can conduct conversations and invite students to share personal experiences and feelings with one another.
Schools can also create specific group designations for special programs or organizations on campus that serve minority and underrepresented students. Through the creation of these online social networks, students can connect with individuals who they relate to on an emotional level. In turn, this added support has a positive impact on retention and graduation rates for every student involved.
As social-emotional learning becomes a mainstay in contemporary education, ConexED proudly provides one all-inclusive platform to ensure communication and connection between students and teachers.