MASTERING OUR SKILLS AND INSPIRING CHARACTER
+ Why are we doing this?
Research shows that children with stronger social and emotional skills pay attention better in class, work better with teachers and classmates, perform better on tests, and have better college and career outcomes.
+ Wouldn't this take too much time away from traditional academic subjects? There is so much talk about a focus on the basics and test scores.
There is ample evidence that social and emotional learning is strongly related to several of our national educational goals and standards, and provides precisely the kinds of skills that national reports indicate are critically needed by youngsters to help avoid disaffection, dropout, and other self-destructive behaviors. Indeed, it is hardly credible or professional to argue a traditional "3R's" position for students in the 21st century. We also know without any doubt that long-term job and career success is strongly linked to emotional intelligence. Some have said that IQ opens doors but EQ (Emotional Intelligence) determines how far you go and how long you stay. Any parent that thinks college and career success does not depend on social-emotional and character development is simply mistaken and is not thinking about what is best for their child in the long-term. Educators and researchers are beginning to realize the powerful protective influence of the school in the child's life. Schools make a difference in children's lives through their academic work, their caring, and by building a safe and collaborative classroom environment in which children can blossom. These cannot be separated and no aspect can be eliminated.
+ As educators we address students social and emotional learning every day! We are doing this already, so what is the big deal?
Many seasoned educators are weary of any new trend, especially if, as is true with social and emotional learning, they feel they already know and use teaching practices that help build their students' competencies in that area. It's true that many educators address students' social and emotional learning on a daily basis, and many teachers and schools are already involved in excellent practices that promote social and emotional development. However, the new realities of society and what children bring into the schools require that we adapt to these realities. Building the core social and emotional competencies and character requires us to look at these areas in the same way we do math, science, and reading. They must be taught in an incremental, coordinated, and continuous manner. Therefore, even for those who maintain they are "doing it already," one thing that is new is the need to plan, as we do for other academic subjects, for developmentally appropriate instruction and practice of social and emotional skills and character development as a part of our core curriculum. This requires educators to re-think their own individualized methods of teaching these skills in favor of a larger organizational plan that will allow for a shared language, consistency, and the sequential building of skills across grade levels. It takes teaching these skills out of the teacher's individual domain and into a larger team approach. Educators cannot think of this as an individual sprint. It's a relay race and how educators (and parents) pass the baton determines the outcome for children.
+ With so many mandates to cover, how can I possibly fit the MOSAIC program into an already overcrowded teaching schedule?
There is no doubt that time needs to be spent making sure SECD is not rushed into a jumbled school schedule. But SECD-as operationalized by MOSAIC-is not a separate area. It fits with mandates in areas including health, family life education, substance abuse prevention, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving, social skills building, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention, guidance, citizenship, social studies, language arts, study and organizational skills, and dropout prevention. The answer to the time question is to look at the thousands of schools implementing SECD programs and approaches and learn how they have found a way to include lessons and activities as part of their routine. There is no general solution; it must be worked out in accordance with local constraints and opportunities. Particularly in special education contexts, skills in social awareness, emotional self-control, and other self-management and behavioral skills and positive character fit well into IEP goals.