Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

2013-02-02 20.02.00At NCSA we believe that the basis for a strong education comes first from strong character education.  Students thrive in small school communities whose philosophy is that students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) is just as important as their academic education.  Because we are a small school, we have developed a close-knit community which allows all adults the time to get to know every student individually, thereby meeting students’ emotional needs directly and quickly.  In addition, the School Director plays an integral role in all discipline issues and believes discipline should be handled on an individual basis rather than “one rule fits all.”


We adhere to two SEL curricula that emphasize open and clear communication, tolerance, non-violent communication and conflict resolution methods.  The SEL curricula we use at NCSA is based on the books Teaching Children to Care and the 5 Dimensions of Engaged Teaching program also know as Passageworks.


At the beginning of the year each main lesson teacher (K-5) is asked to re-teach the 5 lessons about the “Talk It Out,” from Classroom Conflict Resolution Training.  The process of conflict resolution is reinforced through class meetings and through the support of playground supervisors.


The K through 3 Program

The K-3 program focuses on building an emotional vocabulary so that the students are better equipped to express their feelings and needs, as well as recognizing emotional states in others in order to adapt interaction with them. Students begin using “I statements” and other positive communication techniques as a foundation for conflict resolution. They also learn to practice active listening while in academic and social situations. We use Teaching Children to Care as the basis for our model.


The 4 through 5 Program

The 4-5 program concentrates on effective conflict resolution using the skills of active and reflective listening following a brief period of calming or “cooling off”. Students also learn the process of identifying goals and considering the steps needed to attain them. By using critical thinking to project possible outcomes and using introspection to more accurately recognize feelings, active decision making is strengthened. Also included are strategies for managing strong emotions, and the role that feelings play in daily interactions. In addition, all classes participate in the Passageworks model of sitting in circle to address larger class and school issues.


The 6 through 8 Program

The 6-8 program recognizes these developmentally pivotal years as the time when the child starts to become truly autonomous. In middle school the SEL program focuses solely on Passageworks as a teacher facilitated peer council that addresses issues facing young adolescents today.


Teaching Children to Care

His definitive work about classroom management shows teachers how to turn their vision of respectful, friendly, academically rigorous classrooms into reality. It includes:


  • Setting priorities and expectations with children
  • Establishing classroom routines
  • Generating rules with students and using logical consequences
  • Working with families and staff to support the rules
  • Planning and conducting social conferences and class meetings
  • Avoiding power struggles
  • Choosing effective teacher language and tone
  • Helping children with challenging behavior problems


The 5 Dimensions of Engaged Teaching relies on the following 5 core values that should guide us all in our daily work with children.

  • Be observant of yourself and those around you.
  • Be present in the moment.
  • Create respectful boundaries
  • Develop emotional capacity
  • and Cultivate an open heart


Finally, we understand that no matter how hard we try to create a safe learning environment, sometimes students still experience problems.  Therefore we always encourage parents to communicate with the school when they feel their child is having a problem or needs extra support.