This blog post was written by Campbell Mims and Wendy Ward from the South Carolina Public Charter School District.
The pandemic has changed everything in the lives of South Carolina Public Charter School District educators and students.
Our mission — to improve learning and increase learning opportunities — suddenly had to incorporate all the challenges of hybrid, face-to-face, and virtual instruction. These challenges brought to light that now, more than ever, we must advocate for the whole child, not just in the classroom, but also in the home and in the community.
Focusing attention on our students’ and teachers’ social emotional learning (SEL) is more critical than ever.
Our district’s push to prioritize whole child education turns out to be the perfect fit for today’s pandemic times. If you walked into one of our schools on any given day, you may see:
- Classroom community circles connecting students and giving them voice and agency
- A classroom teacher delivering a SEL lesson, using CASEL-aligned curriculum (CASEL stands for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)
- Tiered intervention, in the form of a small group working with a counselor; or
- A student having an individual conference regarding their behavior for the day
This is the result of visionary educators and administrators who are willing to try new approaches.
Our schools who regularly implement SEL can expect to reap the benefits of improved academic performance, improved student attitudes, greater motivation to learn, decreased disciplinary referrals, improved school attendance, and reduced anxiety, stress, and depression levels, particularly when coupled with regular mindfulness activities.