Schools are centered on learning. Learning is focused on content areas and assessment results have been the goal of successful education. So many theories and styles of pedagogy are being introduced all the time! As we move on with different initiatives, we have forgotten that students have obstacles to processing information.
What if a school were designed to focus on social-emotional development and content area became secondary? Would students learn? Would students understand that enhancing self-management, self-awareness, building relationships, social awareness, and responsible decision making are essential when trying to understand an academic concept? Would student learning improve?
Let’s envision what the school day might look like. Two periods in the morning could be a social-emotional maker space or project based learning environment related to the social-emotional components. Monday would be about self-management; Tuesday begins self-awareness; Wednesday would be on building relationships and so forth. One period would be dedicated to understanding the concept and the other period role playing or real life activities where students can practice on an ongoing basis their understanding of the concept would occur. Projects would be about self-reflection of the use of one of the social-emotional ideas throughout the content area classes. Where was it difficult? Why was it difficult? Where was it successful? What strategies were used to show success?
The day would move on with the content areas. Teachers would infuse common language from social-emotional topics into their delivery of the unit. What decision-making process did historical leaders follow? How did a scientist collaborate and build relationships with others to develop a theory? Rote learning would be gone and conceptual, applied knowledge would be brought in. What kind of students might emerge from a school like such?
Instead of the ongoing saga of new initiatives for educational reform and global competition, what about creating environments that break down barriers to learning? Research has identified social-emotional learning as essential for academic success and achievement of goals. Why not transform education from academics centered to social-emotional centered? With this approach, we might top the charts!