Social and Emotional Learning training helps teachers ‘focus on the whole child’

It’s Monday morning, and a group of Dallas ISD teachers are learning how to use a Mood Meter, which will help them recognize their own—and their students’—emotions.

One of the summer professional learning sessions happening July 23 at W.H. Adamson High School is part of a continued district focus on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), which helps students develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to be successful in school, work and life. Through the Mood Meter, for example, students can reflect, name, and label their emotions in an effort to practice self-awareness, social awareness, and self-management. This helps the students practice the skills needed for success with support from their teacher.

There are 120 Dallas ISD campuses this school year that have partnered with the Student Engagement and Counseling Services Department to engage in a series of SEL professional learning sessions. These campuses have committed to implementing SEL signature practices. This summer, SEL professional learning sessions have also been made available to campus administrators and teachers across the district.

“There’s tremendous evidence showing campuses that implement SEL practices see a significant reduction in discipline incidents. ” said Juany Valdespino-Gaytan, Executive Director of Student Engagement and Counseling Services for Dallas ISD’s Teaching and Learning. “Campuses are excited about integrating SEL into their instruction and practices, and we can expect to see much more positive academic and classroom experiences for students.”

The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees in 2016 adopted a policy requiring SEL curriculum standards to supplement the TEKS, and guidance for teaching SEL. For campus leaders such as Dan D. Rogers Elementary Principal Lisa Lovato, the benefits are clear: students learn better when they feel better.

“Focusing on social and emotional learning helps us develop the whole child,” Lovato said. “And by focusing on the whole child, we are setting our students up for success.”

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