Early adolescence is a critical developmental period, complete with numerous physical and cognitive changes as well as shifts in social relationships. Students must also navigate academic competition and an increase in social comparison among peers.
These issues can potentially contribute to decreased self-esteem, school connectedness, anxiety, and loneliness. Students during this time are more likely to face emotional and behavioral challenges, become disengaged from school, and experience a decrease in positive peer influences.
Studies show that nearly one-half of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by mid-adolescence.
And, in the wake of the pandemic, school violence, and the negative effects of social media, the case for social emotional learning (SEL) in school, especially middle school, couldn’t be stronger.
School district leaders are listening! Between March 2020 and September 2022, their overall interest in SEL has increased from 38% to 56% at the middle school level.
Middle school is an ideal time for students to experience social emotional learning through the lens of the five CASEL competencies. The Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning, or “CASEL,” defines SEL as “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”
The CASEL framework includes competencies of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making.
Social emotional competencies can be both protective and promotive, and a broad literature base demonstrates that student behavior and achievement is significantly affected by SEL skills. Positive links between SEL and improved school climate, improved grades, and test scores cannot be understated. By learning, practicing, and performing SEL strategies, students develop healthy coping and problem-solving skills, not to mention improved academic achievement, that can be useful throughout their lives.
While student engagement is crucial to SEL skill acquisition, so is the teacher/student relationship. If we’ve learned one thing in the past two years, it’s this: When teachers and students interact, that’s where the magic happens. Programs that aim to deliver content entirely online miss the boat. Social and emotional skills are individual and interpersonal skills.
Emozi®, a social emotional learning curriculum for middle school, is designed to enhance the teacher/student relationship with engaging and relevant topics, teaching strategies, and student activities such as journaling, student-led discussions based on young adult literature, graphic organizers, an easy to recall self-regulation strategy, role-playing, and much more.
Research-Informed Social Emotional Learning
Researchers have identified 4 SAFE practices in effective SEL programming:
- Sequenced activities
- Active forms of learning
- Focused time
- Explicit learning objectives
When developing Emozi®, SAFE practices were a primary focus, and it shows. Emozi® received positive feedback from middle schools across the country. With Emozi® Middle School, teachers and students work together to understand, practice, and apply SEL concepts while improving their social and emotional competencies.
Emozi® is now expanding with an SEL program for high school. We’re currently finalizing the curriculum, and Emozi® High School will be available for pre-order later this year.
Emozi® works because it draws on past and current research, best practices in teaching, and feedback from educators to provide a meaningful framework. Visit this page to read about the research behind the program, view the logic model for it, and download a whitepaper with more information.
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