2020 Global Youth Justice Court Conference

2020 Global Youth Justice Conference – Day 1

This year, the Global Youth Justice Conference was held in Las Vegas, NV. The multi-day conference included teen court agencies, peer jury diversion programs, court officials, and other youth intervention organizations from across the country.

What is the Global Youth Justice Court?

The Global Youth Justice Court is a youth-focused organization that oversees “[more than 1800] youth justice and juvenile diversion programs called Teen Court, Youth Court, Student Court, Peer Court and Peer Jury.” The driving idea behind the Global Youth Justice Movement is the power of positive peer pressure; delinquent and criminal behavior are addressed in a peer-judgment setting led by youth, in an effort to move towards a restorative approach versus a punitive one.

On a scientific level, positive peer pressure checks out. A recent study by Laurence Steinberg of Temple University found that the brains of teenagers showed activity in regions associated with rewards when they were around their peers. Follow up studies by Steinberg and his team also found that adolescents “learn more quickly and more effectively when their peers are present.” This effectively proves that peer pressure does not necessarily have to be a negative thing.

As a youth-oriented program ourselves, Education Lifeskills attended the 2020 Global Youth Justice Conference. Safety precautions were taken prior to and during the event to ensure safety. Richard Long, ACCI Partnership Manager, and Trevor Lloyd ACCI President were both in attendance at the conference. They had the opportunity to present on the Education Lifeskills program, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach we take, and the successes we have seen in reducing recidivism (or re-offending) rates in schools that we work with. We truly believe that addressing faulty thinking patterns with a restorative approach can help to stem the school-to-prison pipeline.

Youth prevention and recidivism reduction is something we are passionate about, and we are always happy to associate with and learn from others with the same enthusiasm.

For Students: 7 Ways to Manage Stress During COVID-19

Many students are experiencing increased stress levels right now. A survey by BestColleges found that 78% of households with a high school or college student experienced disruptions due to COVID-19. Of those affected by COVID-19, 81% cited that they were experiencing increased stress. These feelings of stress and anxiety can stem from uncertainty about the present and future. Know that you are not alone, and there are ways to manage and cope with these feelings in healthy ways.

As an additional resource, Education Lifeskills is offering a COVID-19 micro-course designed to assist students overcome the many issues associated with returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check it out here!

1. Acknowledge Yourself

You have likely felt the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and this may affect how or even when you return to school. You may have had feelings of worry, uncertainty, or disappointment. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to validate these feelings. Acknowledge the concerns that you may have and understand that these feelings are a response to events happening around you, and it is normal and understandable to have them. Acknowledgment is the first step to managing your stress in a healthy way.

2. Stay informed, but don’t panic

With a lot of information circulating about the coronavirus, it can be easy to get lost in the whirl of information. Trying to discern between fact and fiction can be difficult, causing anxiety and fear. However, the anecdote to fear is knowledge. When we know what to expect, we can be better prepared.

Joseph McGuire, Ph.D, M.A. a psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) as credible sources to stay up-to-date. “Knowledge and preparation can help reduce feelings of panic. Individuals can use information from trusted resources to develop personal plans of action.”

The CDC has published guidelines to help you with best practices for school and travel. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Be mindful of others by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing when possible.

3. Schedule Digital Down Time

Information over-load is a thing. Everyday, we are bombarded with information, and a lot of static noise; videos, photos, tweets, likes, messages, and more. While it is good to stay informed, constant monitoring of updates can quickly turn counterproductive, and become a source of anxiety. Schedule some digital down time to help prevent becoming overwhelmed i.e. no phones/media between the 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

4. Know Your Limits

Though knowledge is key to preparation, these do not guarantee the elimination of stress. Check in with yourself regularly to gauge how you are doing mentally and emotionally. Take care of yourself by taking breaks throughout the day or week as needed.

If your challenges have led to substantial mental health problems, consider seeking professional help.

5. Take care of your mind and body

When you find yourself getting overwhelmed with concerns and negativity, mindfulness is a good way to manage your stress. Mindfulness encourages awareness and acceptance.

Anxiety is often caused by ruminating over negative thoughts about the past or the future. Mindfulness focuses on grounding ourselves in the present. Try this simple, yet effective, exercise. It works to calm our irrational thoughts and allow our rational brain to refresh.

Do something for your body, such as exercise or some form of physical activity. Physical activity is a natural relaxation technique for our bodies. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercising helps to “exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.”

This does not necessarily mean that you have to sweat it out at the gym or run five miles in order to de-stress (although you can if you would like). Sometimes it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, or to the park. With more schools opting for online and/or remote learning, getting outside can create a much-needed change in scenery, and relax the strain on your body and mind.

7. Focus on what you can control

There are a lot of things outside of our control, especially during this time of upheaval. We cannot control how others act or behave, or even what the future may be like. Part of the human experience is the need to know and understand, so it may be difficult to accept that there are things we cannot control. However, if we do not recognize and accept that we cannot control everything, we will inevitably wound up feeling drained, anxious, and miserable.

Rather than fixating on what you cannot control, focus on what you can control. For example, you cannot control how others behave but you can control your actions. You can stay informed, be mindful of yourself, and of others by following guidelines recommended by public health officials.

Richard Long joins the ELS Team

Richard Long has worked in the helping professions for the past 18 years working in leadership positions in wilderness therapy, community behavioral health, therapeutic boarding schools, and public high schools. Richard is passionate about helping youth and young adults succeed, overcome difficult circumstances, and become the best version of themselves. Richard specializes in providing tiered interventions, restorative frameworks, and youth and adult leadership models. Richard completed a Master of Social Work from Arizona State University in 2007 and a Master of Educational Leadership from Capella University in 2016. He loves his family (wife and 4 kids), his bikes (mountain or road), and his ropes (rock climbing and canyoneering)!

The Importance of Drug, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention & Education in Schools and the Effect It Has

The latest Monitoring the Future survey revealed that drug abuse is declining among America’s teens, yet an alarming number of students are still putting their lives at risk by abusing drugs and alcohol. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, around 50% of teenagers have tried illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime. With illicit drugs, misuse of prescription drugs, and binge drinking providing cause for concern across the US, it’s useful to explore and analyze the importance of drug, alcohol and substance abuse education in schools and to evaluate the impact it has.  

The importance of substance abuse education in schools

  Education provided in schools plays an instrumental role in educating children and teens about the potential implications of their actions and habitual behaviors. Many parents choose to speak to their children about taking drugs and drinking alcohol, but not every child will receive an education of this type at home. Drug and alcohol education in schools can help to ensure that no child slips through the net, and also offer a different perspective of substance abuse and a different arena in which to share comments, thoughts, or experiences. Some students may be apprehensive about talking to their parents or being honest with them, and school-based activities and programs may be more effective.   There are several reasons why drug and alcohol education is crucial in schools. A comprehensive curriculum can provide pupils in middle school and high school with information that could have a significant impact on the choices they make both at school and in the future.   Essential factors to consider include:  

  • Spotting the warning signs of addiction
  • Understanding the potential implications of taking illegal drugs or drinking too much and raising awareness of addiction
  • Learning about the impact of addiction or illicit behavior on others, including friends and family members
  • Understanding how to help others who may be struggling
  • Figuring out ways to cope with stress, sadness, or anxiety without drinking or taking drugs
  • Providing an insight into the kind of help that is available if you are going through a tough time

The current situation

  2018 statistics show that although drug abuse and binge drinking are becoming less prevalent in school-aged children, there is still a long way to go. More than a third of students in the 12th grade smoked marijuana last year, with over 3% taking LSD and 2% trying cocaine. Over 13% of 12th-grade students and almost 9% of 10th-grade pupils admitted to binge drinking. The reality is that despite improvements, there are still hundreds of teens putting their lives at risk.   Drug and alcohol education can help to reduce the risk of students falling foul to drugs. This relates not only to pointing out the implications of abusing drugs or alcohol, but also to teaching children to learn to cope with potential triggers for stress, anxiety, and depression and to enable them to adopt positive ways of thinking that give them the confidence to say no to things they don’t want to do or to break a habit.  

The impact of drug, alcohol and substance abuse education in schools

  Every day you spend in school is a learning experience, but often, curriculums are so focused on mainstream educational classes that they miss out valuable life lessons. Many pupils will have little or no idea about the potential consequences of smoking cannabis or drinking shots of vodka when they try them for the first time. Often, with alcohol and marijuana, which are considered ‘soft’ substances, students assume that there is nothing to worry about, but both of these substances are highly addictive. Drug and alcohol abuse education in schools is vital for providing teens with the information they need to make choices, and equipping them with the skills they need to get by in the outside world where they may be more likely to take drugs or drink too much. Additional programs like Education Life Skills’ Marijuana Prevention course can reinforce school learning and provide additional support for educators and parents looking to help the children in their care.   There has been a great deal of debate about the efficacy of school drug education programs in the US in the past, but the National Institute of Drug Abuse suggests that school drug campaigns are effective when they are well-researched and delivered in an engaging manner that takes the target audience into account. The most recent MTF survey suggests that drug and alcohol abuse are becoming less commonplace among students at middle and high school, and this would suggest that school programs are having a positive impact. Figures for binge drinking, for example, have fallen from 31.5% of 12th graders in 1998 to 13.8% in 2018.   In addition to school programs, which are implemented as part of the curriculum, other approaches can also offer a solution. In Indiana, the mother of a 16-year-old who died after taking a synthetic drug called 25I-NBOMe, has convinced more than 40 schools across the state to participate in events and activities as part of National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week. Jeanine Motsay, mother of Sam, stressed the importance of providing students with facts and taking steps to bust myths that surround drug and alcohol consumption that are often perpetuated through music videos, TV shows, and movies.  

Prevention is better than cure

  One of the most important aims of drug and alcohol education programs should be to promote prevention. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that every $1 spent on prevention contributes to a 10-fold saving on drug treatment. One key element is adjusting the mindset of individuals who are compelled to use drugs or drink excessively as a coping mechanism. Education Life Skills’ Captivity- Substance Abuse Prevention course is designed to promote prevention in a way that helps parents and educators to help teens build self-esteem, increase confidence and adopt a way of thinking that eliminates cravings and empowers them to make better choices.   We tend to think about school classes as a means of teaching students to read maps or work out equations, but lessons that are focused on educating pupils about the risks of taking drugs and drinking excessively should form an integral part of classes for youths. These sessions, which can be supported by external programs and local and national events and campaigns, provide young people with valuable information, insightful stories, examples and case studies, and advice about seeking help or assisting others.

How Do We Stop Distracted Driving? It’s a Deadly National Crisis for Our Teens

Did you know that every single day, 9 people lose their lives and more than 1,000 people are injured on US roads as a direct result of distracted driving? Distracted driving is a problem across all age groups, but studies suggest that teenagers are the most commonly affected demographic. The CDC claims that drivers under 20 are more likely to be killed in a car crash caused by distracted driving than any other age bracket. The statistics don’t lie, so why is distracted driving so common among young people, and what can we do to put a stop to it? What exactly is distracted driving? Distracted driving is a term given to anything that takes your eyes or your attention off the road. There are 3 main types of distraction, including

  1. Visual: this is a distraction that causes you to take your eyes off the road, for example, reading a text message
  2. Manual: this form of distraction makes you take your hands off the wheel, for example, opening a message on your phone or adjusting the radio
  3. Cognitive: cognitive distractions prevent you from focusing on driving, for example, talking to a passenger

The most common type of distraction for drivers under the age of 20 is using a cellphone. This may relate to making phone calls, texting or reading text messages or emails, or using social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. When you’re on your phone, the risk of being involved in an accident is high. You might not have both hands on the wheel if you’re holding the handset, your focus won’t be on driving, and your eyes will be on the screen, rather than on the road. Texting while you drive is particularly dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reading or sending a message involves you taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which is sufficient time to drive the length of a football pitch.

What are the consequences of distracted driving?

One of the most important messages we can provide teenage drivers with via Education Lifeskills courses and awareness programs in middle and high schools is the gravity of the consequences of distracted driving. When you drive a car, you’re not just responsible for your own safety, you also have a duty to protect others from harm. This includes passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users. The implications of distracted driving can be horrific and life-altering. Examples include:

  • Legal action and police charges, fines, and penalties
  • Harming yourself and sustaining injuries
  • Injuring or even killing another person
  • Damage to your car
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Dealing with parental disappointment and anger
  • Losing your license

There are driving laws in place to prevent distracted driving, but there are also many things educators, parents, and external providers of courses and programs for youths can do to encourage young drivers to be responsible behind the wheel. Here are some ideas to promote distracted driving awareness in schools and communities:

  • Providing driver education classes in middle and high school: most students learn to drive outside of school, but offering sessions that are designed to highlight risks and encourage safe driving can be an incredibly useful addition to the curriculum.
  • Organize events and campaigns that raise awareness of common causes of accidents among teens, including distracted driving, drink driving, and speeding. Schools in Williamson County launched a new program called Checkpoints after losing five students in crashes between November 2016 and January 2017. This involved engaging in one-to-one training sessions in order to obtain a parking permit for the school. The county also applied for a grant to provide schools with VR goggles to provide students with an accurate insight into what happens when you face potentially hazardous situations.
  • Talk about the risks of distracted driving in classes and offer additional sessions for those who want to learn more. If students are aware of the risk of texting while they drive, they’ll be more likely to put their phone down when they take to the wheel.
  • Use case studies and facts to back up your argument: many of us assume that car crashes are something that happens to other people, but the reality is that anybody can be involved in an accident. Using case studies and statistics and facts can help to clarify your argument and make teens more aware of the risks of taking their eyes off the road, even for a second. A CDC survey from 2015 suggests that over 40% of young people text or send emails while they drive.
  • Discuss external organizations and arrange talks for young drivers: there are several organizations that specialize in promoting safe driving among teens, including End Distracted Driving and Impact Teen Drivers, and there’s also a host of online resources available. Education Lifeskills offers a great, interactive Distracted Driver course for teen drivers who find it difficult to stay focused when they’re driving.
  • Limiting the use of cellphones in schools to get students used to being away from their phones.

Why is distracted driving so common in teens?

Today’s teenagers have grown up in a world that is very different due to the rise in popularity of the Internet, cellphones and social media. Research suggests that Americans check their phones up to 80 times per day, and the figure may be even higher among teens. Young people communicate by phone, they like to keep in touch with friends and family throughout the day, and many also feel obliged to keep tabs of their social media accounts. A poll conducted by the AAA suggests that 94% of teen drivers are aware of the potential risks of texting while driving, but over a third still do it. Teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in crashes than adults when texting or talking on a cell phone. Part of the problem is that teens are so used to having their phones with them all the time that they can’t resist the temptation to make a call, scan their Instagram feed, or send a text even though they’re driving. The aims of campaigns and distracted driving courses should be to educate young drivers about the consequences of distracted driving, but also to highlight the fact that you don’t have to be connected to your phone 24-hours-a-day. If a call is urgent, it’s much safer to pull over or to use an in-car hands-free system. Education Lifeskills’ course is not a traffic program, but rather a training module that emphasizes the importance of a safety-first approach to driving. Distracted driving is the most common cause of car accidents among young drivers. To tackle the crisis, teenage drivers, parents, educators, nonprofits, and external training providers can work together to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and make our roads a safer place for everyone.

Setting Social Emotional Goals for Yourself & Students

Although education has typically been viewed as being about giving students academic and technical skills, there’s an increasing recognition that social-emotional development is important, too.

Data suggest that IQ is not a complete predictor of job performance. EQ, or a person’s emotional intelligence quotient, is possibly more critical because of the growing role of collaboration, teamwork, and interpersonal skills in the modern workplace.

The question for educators, therefore, is how to set better social-emotional goals for themselves and their students. In short, what can educators do to foster emotional development among the people in their care to help them get to where they want to go?

Recognize That Goals Should Be Unique To The Individual

When it comes to our emotions, people are different. Some people have issues regarding anger, while for others self-attack and rumination lead to mood disorders, like anxiety. Any suitable goal setting strategy must reflect the individual needs of the person concerned.

Use The SMART System

Setting goals shouldn’t be a blind process either for you or your students. It should be couched in a framework derived from the science of behavioral change, like the SMART system.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Goals should be specific in the sense that they should refer to a particular social-emotional circumstance, like how you or your students feel while in group situations. For instance, a student might want to address his or her feelings of fear or laziness while working with other people.

Goals should be measurable. That is, a person should be able to use a method to ensure that they are making progress.

Goals should be attainable. When goals are perceived as too difficult, then people are less likely to want to strive for them. Goals should be challenging enough to provoke real progress, but not so hard as to appear impossible from the start.

Goals need to be relevant. Relevance refers to the idea that developing one’s social-emotional status is something that is worth doing. Here it’s worth highlighting the benefits of better social-emotional skills, including the ability to form lasting, sustainable relationships, advance faster in a career, or make more progress doing something entrepreneurial.

Finally, goals should be time-based. Time creates pressure to achieve goals sooner rather than later so that they are not put off indefinitely. A time-based social-emotional goal might be to overcome one’s frustrations about something before the end of the year.

Spend Time Reflecting On Goals

Once you and your students have established a set of goals, it’s a good idea to reflect on them. The purpose of reflection is to evaluate whether the goals meet the SMART criteria. An individual may initially believe that their social-emotional goals do conform to the requirements, but following discussion with you and other students, it could turn out that they don’t. Useful goal setting, therefore, requires a degree of reflection and external moderation. Sharing goals helps to improve accountability and develops support between group members. Goals can be a team effort, with mutually-interlocking support structures.

Get ELS courses at your school or district

Recommended Books for Social Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning is fast becoming a bedrock of modern approaches to education. Social-emotional learning books help students develop independence from teachers and caregivers, preparing them for life outside of school in the modern workplace and higher education.

What are some good books for social-emotional learning? Let’s take a look.

Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C. Jones

When Jones set out to create Matthew and Tilly, her vision was to teach children about the profound benefits of conflict resolution. The story is set around the tale of a black girl called Tilly and a white boy named Matthew. The story begins with Matthew and Tilly playing together happily, but they get into an argument over a crayon. The fight results in both children going their separate ways and trying to play by themselves.

The problem is that they each end up resenting the fact that they are alone. Sure, there’s no need to negotiate with another person, but there’s also less fun when experiencing something alone. The story concludes with the pair making up and agreeing to play together once more; the moral of the story being that it’s worth the effort of negotiating with other people so that everybody can get along.

The Book Of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Many people grow up with a “fear of failure.” Thanks to some modern educational practices and pressure from caregivers, children can begin to associate their achievements with their personal value from a young age. Not only is this emotionally unhelpful, but it can also lead people to avoid challenges in the future, should they be revealed as incompetent.

Luyken, therefore, set out to show the positive side of “mistakes” or “failures.” Her book follows the story of people who turned their mistakes into fabulous success, thanks to what they learned early on. Errors can create the inspiration that changes a person’s life. They should be viewed as valuable information and an incentive to change one’s behavior or outlook, not an indication of some personal lack of worth.

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Negative self-talk is a plague on our society, ruining the lives of those who would otherwise be perfectly adequate people. Beaumont set out to create a book which helps foster positive self-talk in children, arresting damaging cycles of rumination that can develop early on in life.

Her story focuses on the notion that we should have a positive attitude towards ourselves, regardless of the opinions of others.

Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Marie Letourneau’s book, Argyle Fox, focuses on the story of a young fox who wants to play games and have fun outside. However, the wind keeps on scuppering his plans, ruining his fun by blowing down his card tower. Letourneau’s purpose in this book is to teach children the value of perseverance and overcoming challenges. Sometimes things in life are hard. A child might feel frustrated, but the way to overcome frustration is to deal with it head-on, figure out what you’re doing wrong, and then make modifications. It’s about experimentation and positive attitudes.

 

Impact of Social Emotional Learning on Student Achievement 100%

Social and emotional learning is an approach to education that has been growing in popularity, focusing on creating a safe and positive learning environment that fosters an ability to succeed not just in school, but in careers and throughout life.

With schools that are growing more diverse, with students from multicultural backgrounds, different social upbringings, and a range of economic circumstances, it can help children better engage in learning, positive behavior, and social engagement with peers. But what is the impact of social & emotional learning (SEL) on student achievement? Here, we’re going to look at how SEL also provides a positive influence on academic performance.

What is social & emotional learning?

Studies have shown that SEL can help improve academic achievement by 11 percentile points on average, besides improving socially cohesive attributes, such as sharing and empathy and combating mental health issues like stress and anxiety. But how does it do this? Through working with schools, families, and throughout the communities, SEL takes an approach of developing five key skills that can greatly improve the attitudes of students towards schools. The five skills are as follows:

Self-awareness: Understanding of one’s emotions, goals, and values. By assessing our strengths and shortcomings, we can improve our mindsets regarding our own performance, leading to optimism and improved self-esteem

Self-management: When we are more aware of the connections between our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we can better regulate them. Skills like stress management, delaying gratification, and impulse control help students manage their own reactions and keep a positive, productive mindset when faced with challenges, especially in school.

Social awareness: Better understanding social norms in a given context, such as school, family, and the wider community, as well as awareness of support and resources available can help us be more connected to our network, helped with lessons on empathy, compassion, and understanding those in different circumstances.

Relationship skills: With social awareness opens the door to fostering healthier relationships. Building relationship skills like active listening, communication skills, cooperation, and conflict negotiation can help us build a network of more rewarding relationships with peers and teachers.

Responsible decision making: Learning how to make constructive choices when it comes to behavior, interactions, and academic goals. This includes learning now just how to set achievable aims but also to address ethics, safety, and behavioral norms regarding the situation. Better evaluations of actions and consequences can help students stay safe and responsible.

To many of us, these behaviors may seem intuitive. However, they need to be learned and need to be taught. By assuming that all students come to school with these skills already ingrained in them is to put them at an automatic disadvantage compared to their peers. This can lead to major differences in academic achievement between students. How does SEL and the skills mentioned above contribute to achievement in the classroom and beyond?

How SEL contributes directly to achievement

As mentioned, a meta-analysis of schools, parents, and students that have incorporated social & emotional learning practices has shown an average of an 11 percentile point rise in students’ achievement scores. The range of soft skills learned through SEL contribute to this greatly, but one of the primary benefits is the change in attitude towards school. Understanding the importance of responsible decision making in school, being more aware of their own habits and how to control them, and the rewards that come with delayed gratification and better relationships in the school make a direct impact on academic achievement.

Social cohesion and academic success

Better awareness of social norms and appropriate behavior can help prevent students from inappropriate interactions that can sabotage their relationships with peers, teachers, and parents. This can prove a roadblock to the positive relationships that help create better attitudes towards schools and may make it harder to develop productive bonds with teachers, meaning they get less attention in the classroom. SEL can help students get along better with others and can develop the close student-teacher relationships that are a crucial ingredient of academic achievement. These close relationships encourage students to perform better, to embrace challenges, to seek help when they need it. Furthermore, they can lead to outcomes like references when going into further education or the workforce, helping students achieve well beyond the classroom.

Behavioral improvement and achievement

Many a teacher, parent, guardian and even student are aware that behavioral problems can impede achievement. Behavioral infractions in the class can lead to missed school time, actively sabotaging their education. Furthermore, acting inappropriately due to poor impulse control can damage the relationships a student has with their peers and teachers, negatively impacting their attitudes towards school in the long-term. SEL students are overall less aggressive and less disruptive in school, as well as being less likely to have behavior and substance abuse problems before the age of 25.

Mental health and academic success

School can be a stressful time for any student, at any age. Changes in one’s own personality and perspective, as well as a shift in our own social positioning can manifest in many negative ways. Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal are on the rise, specifically in teenagers and most especially in teenage girls. Students engaged in social & emotional learning show fewer occurrences of these problems across the board. This is due in part to self-management skills like planning, improved attention spans, and the ability to control their own impulses and reflect on their own thoughts. Given how mental health can greatly affect our self-esteem as well as our ability to devote more attention to a task, it should be no surprise these changes can lead to better academic achievement.

Ongoing studies are continuing to prove what those engaged with social & emotional learning have already known for some time. Teaching the skills that often get left behind in the classroom can help even the playing field for a range of students from different cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, making a positive impact on achievement for everyone involved.

 

The Importance of Relationships in Social Emotional Learning

Academic skills are often seen as a necessity in modern life. School is seen as mandatory and it’s important for young children to begin studying as early as possible in order to prepare for their future. Unfortunately, far too much emphasis is being placed on academic skills and little attention is being paid to other aspects of life such as key social emotional skills that are also essential for their development and to improve their lives.

More and more people are starting to challenge educational norms by pointing out the lack of attention given to social and emotional learning. If more focus was placed on developing relationships between educators and their students, it can help young children develop essential social and emotional skills that will also assist in their development.

What is social emotional learning?

Social emotional learning is the process of acquiring and applying the knowledge and skills required to manage emotions. For instance, the ability to show empathy for others, being able to self-motivate yourself through setting goals, and also learning to take responsibility for the decisions. It’s about being intelligent with your emotions and being able to control them for the sake of overcoming emotional and mental health obstacles that are required not just to succeed in school, but also to prepare for conflicts in workplaces and at home that could cause added stress.

What are examples of social emotional skills?

There are several different social emotional skills that play important roles in helping one manage their emotions and behaviours.

  • Self-awareness – Being self-aware of your emotional state and understanding your own feelings.
  • Self-control – The ability to act on your self-awareness and controlling the actions that result from your emotions.
  • Self-confidence – Ability to believe in your own skills and ability in order to live a fulfilling life where you don’t doubt yourself all the time.
  • Self-motivation – Being able to set your own goals in life and take appropriate actions in order to fulfil those goals.

 

    • Tenacity – Staying mentally focused in order to stick to your goals and see them through to the end without giving up and losing your motivation.

 

  • Rational problem-solving – Separating rational thinking from your emotions in order to solve problems that you encounter in everyday life.
  • Relationship building – Communicating with others, cooperating with them and forming friends and bonds that help you avoid and resolve conflict.

 

These are just a couple of examples of social emotional skills that are of great importance to anyone’s life. Possessing these abilities will ultimately give a child more confidence in themselves, allowing them to develop more quickly and overcome stressful situations that could negatively affect their mental state at a younger age.

How does social and emotional learning affect schools?

Studies have started to point towards a correlation between social and emotional learning and a child’s wellbeing at both school and home. By encouraging teachers to make children aware of these social emotional skills, it can create a positive impact on their wellbeing and help them live more fulfilling and mentally stable lives. Social and emotional skills can also help children settle into their classrooms and to make meaningful relationships with their peers, allowing them to progress quickly through their learning and reduce the number of distractions and stressful situations that they could encounter.

Social and emotional learning is designed to teach children how to form and manage positive relationships, making their school the ideal environment to learn and practice their social skills. Schools can create many different social situations that are similar to real-world occurrences. This includes meeting new friends, settling into new classrooms with familiar faces, networking with new groups of acquaintances through existing relationships and even identifying and dealing with instances of bullying. By giving children the skills required to recognize and respond to different emotions, it empowers them to communicate their feelings more effectively. This means fewer misunderstandings and a deeper connection between a child and their peers, resulting in an overall more positive atmosphere in schools and other educational institutes.

Sadly, the relationship between a children and teachers is often forgotten

Social emotional learning programs are offered in most schools now, but very few of these focus on the relationships between children and their teachers despite the advantages that it can offer to both parties. If more emphasis was placed on forming relationships between a child and their teachers, it could help children better learn and understand the concepts surrounding social and emotional learning.

Although the intentions of social and emotional learning programs are good, the approach taken misses a fantastic opportunity to help children develop their social emotional skills with teachers who are far more experienced in life and can offer real-world examples and situations that give children more insight into social norms that they will be following in the future.

Studies have shown that social and emotional learning practices have drastically improved student wellbeing, productivity and behaviour. They can help students and teachers form stronger long-lasting relationships that benefit both parties by improving psychological health and wellbeing. Sadly, few schools are taking social and emotional learning seriously because they simply don’t understand the benefits that it can provide to both teachers and students.

Conclusion

When strong relationships are formed between students and their teachers, it creates a positive environment that reduces stress across the board and drastically improves productivity, behaviour and mental stability for everyone involved. Unfortunately, very little focus is being put on student relationships with their teachers especially when social and emotional learning is involved.

One of the biggest hurdles for both children and teachers to overcome is the lack of training regarding social emotional learning practices across many schools. Teachers, parents and even students understand its benefits, but teachers need to become role models for the social and emotional learning skills that they want to teach to their students and this requires educating the educators first. With this roadblock out of the way, we can start to see the real benefits of social and emotional learning programmes and how focusing on teacher-student relationships can benefit everyone.