Teaching Social And Emotional Skills Is As Important As Teaching Academic Content
By Mai Sue Yang
The last couple of years has been marked by tremendous isolation for families because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did lost instructional time lead to learning loss, but students now more strongly than ever need extra social and emotional support to help them succeed. Therefore, students must be provided with opportunities to engage in activities that will let them develop social and emotional skills and allow their imaginations to fly.
The district’s educational philosophy at Noble Academy focuses on rigorous academic programs and social curriculum. In addition, the district infuses Responsive Classroom principles and techniques into the life of the school. In a nutshell, the Responsive Classroom approach is evidence-based teaching and discipline that focuses on academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness to help students gain social and academic skills.
Students need a structured environment to thrive. Especially following hard times as the pandemic. They need assurance. They need to know what to expect daily. When learning and behavior expectations are set forth from the beginning, this helps students stay on track. Teachers at Noble are expected to write the daily schedule and a morning message on the board where it’s visible for all students to follow. In addition, posters for school-wide rules are posted in classrooms, which is consistent across the board.
All classes follow the same routine. In addition, teachers conduct morning meetings with their students daily. This is a way to acknowledge students, engage students, and build a sense of community. Students gather in a circle with the teacher to greet one another. Each student can share information about important life events and listen or offer empathetic comments. When teachers learn about students’ interests, they use this information to guide their teaching. Teachers are also trained to ask themselves if their students feel comfortable and safe and monitor them to ensure they take responsibility for their learning.
The school is constantly in search of the latest and best practices to support its staff and students with learning. In addition to Responsive Classroom, the school stresses the importance of practicing a particular technique known as “Brain Charge” to help improve teachers and students with teaching and learning during stressful times. Students are also taught “CARES” which is a belief that was developed to encourage a positive code of conduct and embrace a set of core values that include: Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy and Self-control.
The school emphasizes students’ mental health as a child’s mental health affects their social, emotional, and behavioral development. Teachers are trained to watch for students exhibiting concerning signs and symptoms. The school designates one full month to offer afterschool activities, strictly focusing on mental health-related activities. These activities range from reading, exercise, self-care, arts and crafts, confidence-building, coping skills, and nutrition. These activities help students engage both physically and mentally, and improve self-esteem and resilience, communication and social skills, and much more.
Noble maximized in-person learning this past school year by implementing effective practices to mitigate learning loss and accelerate learning. When the state offered to fund summer school this past season, Noble jumped at the opportunity without question. The senior administration explored many research-based tutoring programs that are promising and would be most beneficial to its students. These implemented programs included one-on-one tutoring, small intervention groups, afterschool activities integrated with the school day, and focusing on social/emotional support and extracurricular activities, to name a few. During the springtime, the school launched its annual March Madness program that hit hard on preparing students for state assessments.
The school ensures rigorous and rich content for all students that meet each student where they are. The goal is to engage, enrich, challenge, and support students as they continue their academic progress toward proficiency. Each student must have an individualized learning plan (ILP) that is used to assess and address different learning levels. The ILPs allow the school to develop custom goals and support each student’s academic and social-emotional needs. Teachers can also build on the student’s strengths and needs and use the ILP to impact their learning positively.
Noble Academy is not one school to cut corners when providing students with an excellent education. Students’ best interest is always kept in mind, and the school will continue to find and improve on strategies, programs, and services to empower students to excel academically and socially. The school is aiming hard to combat the lingering effects of the pandemic and believes wholeheartedly that with students, teachers, and families all on board, our future leaders will catch up or, better yet, surpass their learning.
Noble Academy is currently enrolling for grades K-8. For more information, please visit www.nobleacademy.us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-592-7706.
Images courtesy Noble Academy.