School is back in session, and campuses are abuzz with activity. Safety and security is always a concern in public schools, especially after many acts of violence in our schools last year. Educators, leaders, community members, parents, and students are looking for solutions to ensure safety for everyone.
Communities are banding together to fight for safer schools. Whether it’s increasing safety spending or implementing new policies, schools are prioritizing security. In fact, a majority of schools plan to use their ESSA funds for “safe, drug-free schools.”
While we agree that physical safety in the learning environment is crucial, there is more at stake here. We can build walls and hire guards, but unless we change the daily student experience and make a concerted effort to impact students’ hearts and minds through that experience, security will be a risk.
How can schools truly become safer?
e2L believes that one important component is creating a learner experience in every classroom that is relevant and engaging. One that provides the opportunity for all students to build a sense of community and connectedness with not only their teachers and peers but also their overall school culture.
Students experience social emotional learning when they learn how to forge relationships, manage conflict in a healthy way, and show empathy. SEL promotes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making skills. Put simply, SEL helps students foster healthy relationships, both with themselves and with others.
This is critical to teaching students how to deal with negative emotions in a healthy way. It encourages positive learning environments and a culture of growth-minded accountability.
SEL can’t just be a program that’s implemented separately from the everyday learner experience. Students sniff out this lack of intentionality and authenticity. They can’t contextualize the lessons these “add-on” type programs provide. SEL should be designed as part of the everyday student learning experience.
SEL also gives teachers more tools to connect and engage with learners. This learner-focused brand of learning fosters a culture of innovation, openness, and positivity. Educators can implement SEL strategies in everyday learning through:
Ultimately, it’s this impact on culture that has such an effect on school safety. When we foster the growth of students’ social and emotional skills, when we grow their connectedness to one another, we can continue keeping our schools safe while growing very important Life Ready Skills.
Our students, teachers, and leaders deserve safe spaces where they can focus on their growth. While procedural and structural improvements also play a key role in school safety, a culture shift to provide a more complete, more relevant, more connected learner experience is also necessary. SEL, if intentionally designed as part of the everyday, helps learners become more self-aware and an overall better member of the school community
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