It’s back to school time for many, and as schools welcome back their students, many issues around school safety, social media awareness and the wellbeing of all students are on the minds of administrators and educators. The seven hours per day, five days per week that students spend with their teachers is an opportunity for school-aged children to learn more than reading, writing and arithmetic lessons.
More and more, superior teaching programs and ongoing professional development requirements continue to elevate the profession, and kids in the classroom benefit from more a more complex, connected curriculum that includes best practices in technology and Social Emotional Learning:
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, establish and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL is critical to developing competencies besides academic content knowledge that are necessary to succeed in college and in careers. Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school. SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful. — The National Education Association, Backgrounder: The Importance of Social Emotional Learning For All Students Across All Grades Parents are the alpha and omega when setting the example and teaching their kids important lessons about empathy, compassion, critical thinking, conflict resolution and decision-making. This week, we encourage parents to seize the opportunity to forge even stronger partnership with teachers who are increasingly equipped through education and special training to reinforce these critical Social Emotional Learning lessons.
Parent-Teacher Compact, 3.0
Technology has both complicated and bolstered our work, and our K-12 classrooms are no exception to this fact. Like all tools, technology has the power to enable wonderful progress, or inflict damage when used carelessly or without skill. In our schools and in our homes, it has created digital minefields where children can inflict emotional damage on one another on and off school grounds, around the clock.
It has also provided new avenues for parents and teachers to make each other more successful.
Not long ago, parents’ only option for contacting teachers off hours was to call them at home, a step that felt intrusive for a non-emergency. Now parents can use social media, email and texts for something as simple as a homework assignment question, to far more serious discussions about a child getting bullied online.
Parents should keep those lines of communication open so they’re better aware of what’s going on in the classroom and the SEL lessons being emphasized, according to Melissa Straub, Founder of High Impact Youth Training Solutions.
“Educators have a really hard battle and their hearts are in the right place,” Straub said. “Most of them have the tools and the educational foundation to provide these wonderful gifts of SEL – teaching kids all about good things like empathy, conflict resolution and emotion management. It’s just a matter of getting the message out there and getting the parents to back them up.”
One of the most important ways parents can do that is by modeling behavior that reinforces what’s being taught in school. Straub noted that if you lecture a child about taking a break from their cell phones or not reacting emotionally to a social media post, the lessons won’t hold if they see you’re not following your own rules.
SEL Lessons Protect Our Kids and Reveal Their Strengths, IF They’re Equipped & Practiced
Straub is also the founder and lead investigator for Without A Trace Investigations, which specializes in social media-related investigations, including cybercrime, cyberbullying, sexting and other social networking issues. She stressed that one of the most important things parents can do to promote good digital citizenship and support SEL efforts is to talk long and hard with their children about the internet before giving them access to it.
Teens have to navigate a literal obstacle course of road cones, study written materials and drive under adult supervision for months before receiving a driver’s license, she noted. They need nothing of the sort to enter the digital world.
“Before handing over this wonderful gift of technology, a lot of parents don’t stop to think, ‘Are these children ready for this? Have I talked to them about safety concerns’?” Straub said. “Don’t fall to peer pressure. Make your own decision on when they’re ready.”