The Wallace Foundation along with the RAND corporation conducted a teacher survey in Spring 2019 into the area of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and teachers’ wellbeing. The survey found that teachers who reported a generally high sense of wellbeing were more engaged with SEL practices within their school and classroom, than teachers who reported a lower wellbeing score.
Within the CASEL framework, part of implementing a SEL plan across the school and district is to make sure that your staff are trained in the SEL practices and feel confident to deliver them in the classroom. The CASEL framework also promotes the idea that SEL is not just about curriculum lessons but it is about a whole school way of working. This makes sense as you would not think about teaching a student to write without having books, literature and reading being taught alongside, SEL is an integrated system just like literacy skills. The pressure from other places for academic levels to rise, seems to knock SEL to one side, even though all the research shows that if you get SEL right, academics soar.
Back to staff well-being, so having the focus on SEL in our schools is obviously having a positive effect on those engaged with it. As a Principal why wouldn’t you do this? Happy staff means happy students which translates into happy parents and results in tests scores rising. Seems like a win-win situation for everyone.
Teachers who reported a generally high sense of well-being were more engaged with SEL practices.
In implementing an SEL program in schools and teaching students that it’s good to express emotions in appropriate ways, to think about others’ feelings in situations, to take responsibility for decisions/actions they take. It’s very hard to be that colleague who angrily challenges in a faculty meeting about yet another new initiative, or to break the copier and sneak away, or has no regard to others when making a mess in the teachers’ lounge at lunch, leaving it for others to clear up. In some ways, it would be quite hypocritical to teach our students one way of being and completely ignoring it for ourselves and our colleagues.
With a new SEL program in school, there will need to be whole school ethos changes. You cannot promote relationship skills in the classroom, then at recess with another class, completely ignore the fact that no-one can share the equipment in these more unstructured times which then causes negative behaviors. These behaviors then have to be dealt with through the school systems. If the language of SEL is used throughout the whole school and its systems, this can be a great opportunity to reflect on relationship skills in the ‘real’ world and how to apply them in a more positive way. A very valuable learning opportunity to be captured and used, not squandered away.
By having SEL in schools and for you as a member of staff to be engaging with this, it is likely to have a positive effect on your sense of wellbeing, so why wouldn’t you give it a try.
Download this infographic to learn about the state of teacher wellbeing in the USA and find out the key statistics and figures relating to teachers' mental health.