The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered all aspects of society. Children, in particular, have had to embrace their feelings of uncertainty and isolation all while adjusting to a remote education.
Alarmingly, only 7% of educators felt prepared to address the social and emotional needs of students last Spring 2020. Thankfully, this number is slowly increasing as more stakeholders realize that social and emotional learning (SEL) is crucial in helping students better understand their emotions as their minds and faculties grow.
When young people develop empathy and self-control, it's easier for them to succeed as adults with well rounded dispositions and greater opportunities. This is possible in large part due to effective communication skills. So, let’s take a deeper look at the critical role of communication in SEL for students below.
Communication in the digital age
Effective communication requires a thorough understanding of how to connect with people.
With technology, communication has evolved to become an instantaneous transaction. But just like any other advancement, this comes with the need for caution: inappropriate content, cyberbullying and data breaches may lead to emotional and mental issues like anxiety or low self-esteem.
SEL in the digital age means young people need to learn to become self and socially aware in order to make critical and responsible decisions online. Initial excitement with technology shouldn't detract from the fact that any information we put out on the Internet can have long-lasting consequences.
Teaching young people how to safely interact with new information and technology is absolutely crucial. This is especially important because the Internet is a tool to connect with the wider world and introduce children to fresh experiences.
SEL in the digital age means young people need to learn to become self and socially aware in order to make critical and responsible decisions online.
New media also exposes new perspectives, which are crucial in a child's development. Media literacy skills require skills like responsible decision-making and emotional empathy in order for young learners to understand what is going on on the screen in relation to reality.
This is increasingly important today because while mainstream media includes digital media platforms like news sites, YouTube, or social media, actual misinformation and fake news are trending issues in the 21st century. Not all information today is reliable, and social emotional learning allows young brains to skillfully self-manage and sort through the content by asking critical questions and considering their emotions.
This builds social awareness and at the same time, this exposure to a wider perspective can also teach them empathy, allowing them to be kinder to others as well as themselves.
New communication tools
Learning to communicate your thoughts and feelings and listening to others is key to developing SEL offline and online. It is therefore important to foster this communication trait inside the classroom, and educators play a crucial role in this.
Tools like Your Voice provide this platform for open communication and centralized feedback. Showing that educators are responsive to student concerns, increases student value and demonstrates the innate power of speaking up.
On a wider assessment, teachers can identify the reasons behind teacher attrition and further understand how their school communities are feeling. When paired with other measuring systems, professors are able to plan and deliver targeted SEL interventions according to students’ individual SEL needs. This streamlines the workload around managing SEL assessment data and improves the learning process.
Communication and SEL for parents
It's clear that communication should always be actively worked on. Only when there is a coordinated effort can we exhaust SEL and nurture its five core competencies in our children: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
SEL has to flourish even beyond the classroom and inside students’ homes. This is why educators recognize the importance of communicating the “learning” in social emotional learning, especially given the diverse perceptions of parents. SEL must be explained with pragmatic real-life applications that focus on social emotional skills like goal setting, navigating social situations, and standing up for people from different backgrounds.
Appealing to mutual goals allows parents to understand the connection between academic learning and social emotional development. SEL is necessary for any child to reach their full academic and social potential and pursue their dreams.