Social & Emotional Learning Considerations

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What is Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

WCUUSD is committed to making SEL a priority for faculty, staff and students!

WCUUSD School Reentry Considerations

Social-Emotional Learning Task Force (Planning Updates)

  • Prioritizing the social-emotional needs of staff and students will be paramount in a successful re-entry to school, and equally so should distance learning become a required part of our plan

  • Social-emotional frameworks and screening tools are being explored for implementation to support the needs of staff and students upon re-entry to school and will continue in the case of distance learning.

Living during a worldwide pandemic and the interruptions to daily life that it has caused - not the least of which was the dismissal of school last spring and transition to distance learning - impacted, and continues to impact, all of us in unique and personal ways.

The SEL Task Force has been working towards identifying and supporting students and families most affected by these events, as well as mitigating minor, moderate and severe reactions to changes in our everyday lives. To this end, the task force is:

  • selecting screening materials (such as interviews and checklists) to best support staff, families and students;

  • connecting and coordinating with community resources and mental health professionals; and

  • collaborating with other WCUUSD task forces to implement and strengthen social and emotional wellness utilizing the many resources available in our schools and communities.

Guided by the SEL reentry plans of the Vermont School Counselor Association and Dave Melnick’s End Well, Plan Well, Begin Well, we will be taking a systemic approach to ensuring the social and emotional wellness of our students and families. Knowing that students look to the adults in their lives for strength and support, we will start by making sure our staff members are ready and prepared to deal with the myriad issues that students and their families may be dealing with as school resumes - be it in-person or remote. To this end the SEL Task Force is:

  • designing screener activities and implementing supports for WCUUSD faculty and staff; and

  • planning pre-service professional development days prior to the start of school.

We believe that infusing support and processing into our first staff days back together will serve as the guidepost and modeling for the up-coming days when students will return to their schools. This process of screening and responding to current events will serve as the foundation for SEL practices as we return to school. The guiding questions to staff will remain:

  • How are you?

  • What supports do you already have in place?

  • What do you need?

The balance of the SEL Task Force’s work has been exploring the more detailed and nuanced questions facing our students, staff, schools and communities, including:

  • How do we ensure physical space and distance without also impacting emotional closeness and relationships?

  • How do we ask for and hear requests for personal space?

  • How do we craft developmentally appropriate lessons and learning environments safely, when personal interaction and exchanges are fundamental to this learning?

  • What might it mean to not have sports for students who identify as athletes, student-athletes, and/or avid supporters? Or other such enrichment activities?

  • How will we ensure safety drills are completed in an emotionally safe and supportive way?

Additional Resources:

Vermont School Counselor Association Guidelines for School Re-Opening