Celebrating National Social Emotional Learning Day
Dr. Jennifer McCatharn, Senior Manager of Social Emotional Learning
This year on National Social-Emotional Learning Day, schools and districts around the world elevate the importance of social-emotional learning and rally around the theme of uplifting hearts and connecting minds. What a relief it is to know that what may be a special occasion in some schools is just another day of learning and growing the whole child at all of our Rocketship campuses, where SEL formation has been a daily core practice dating back to our early years. Our daily schedule incorporates SEL at every turn, with campuses joining together for Launch and an opportunity to spiral our SEL skills and Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) focus, followed by classroom Community Meetings and ongoing skill-building through PBIS implementation during instructional blocks. Our Tier 1 SEL Curriculum (SDC) is designed with consideration for the CASEL framework, our RPS core values, and culturally responsive pedagogy. Our SEL approach also draws upon resources from RULER, Zones of Regulation, and the Kimochis curriculum.
This grounding in prioritizing SEL skill and relationship building has served as a reliable anchor for our students in the midst of the particularly unprecedented times that our students, staff, and families have endured over the last few years and are still navigating today. In writing about the need for adequate and justice-oriented social-emotional learning in the midst of pandemics, Higheagle Strong & McMain (2020) wrote:
“It is important to provide spaces in education for learners of all ages and social positionings to share their stories of suffering, anger, sadness, confusion, etc. in ways that do not (as dominant models of SEL often do) view such “negative” affect as energies to “deal with” in order to return to academics. Emotions are not just textures that accompany our learning. They are states of existence to learn from as we unpack the entanglements between personal experience and socio-political context (Ahmed, 2004).”
One way that we do that at Rocketship is through our original Shortest Distance Curriculum (SDC) – where we weave together storytelling with prosocial skill building to help students make meaning of their lives and to share their own rich personal histories. Here’s what it looks like in the classroom:
Mrs. Finn, first grade teacher at Rocketship Transformation Prep, posts her RULER-aligned emotional intelligence charter so she can refer back to the aligned feelings and actions her students have committed to choosing.
Ms. Amick’s 4th grade Rocketeers at Rocketship United Academy lead a community meeting every day, elevating student voice and engagement.
Mr. Frazier, first grade teacher at Rocketship Rise Academy, is known for his enthusiasm and warmth during community meetings.
Rocketeers at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep use a “C” hand signal to signal to their teacher that they want to take a mindful moment in the “Calm Corner”when needed throughout the school day.
Ms. Tello leads one of many great community meetings for her 4th graders at Rocketship Sí Se Puede.
Supporting social-emotional learning takes a team effort and as we approach SEL day we thank the school leaders, wellness counselors, culture specialists, teachers, operations staff, and students for their contributions every day to this important work!
Published on March 11, 2023
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