As Schools Adopt Social-Emotional Programs, A New Guide Funded by the Wallace Foundation Offers Help
Parents, teachers and students streamed into the library of Palo Alto’s Gunn High School on a warm evening this spring to hear about a new plan, coming this fall, to help high school students develop empathy and coping skills through “social and emotional learning.” For starters, the audience wanted the answer to a question that has dogged the jargon phrase for years: What is social and emotional learning and why should schools get involved in it?
The term is bedeviled by abstractions, but the concept is straightforward: help students learn how to manage their emotions, be kind to others and make sensible decisions and they will do better in school, work and life. Like Palo Alto Unified, districts across the state are increasingly interested in helping students cope, prompted by concerns about student mental health and a new accountability system that calls for schools to do a better job for the hundreds of thousands of students who are suspended or chronically absent each year.
Now a new guide, Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, published by researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, aims to steer school districts through the thicket of social and emotional learning programs and decide on an approach. . .