TST BOCES hosted a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Lab over four sessions throughout the 2018-2019 school year.
Facilitated by Beth Dryer, Regional Coordinator of Curriculum and Professional Development, and Sunny Miller, Cooperative Enrichment Services Coordinator, this professional development opportunity was available to all educational professionals including teachers, administrators, counselors and paraprofessionals in the region. The Lab was informed by new SEL benchmarks set by NYSED in 2018 and sought to identify how new NYSED guidance and resources can be best utilized to support SEL in our schools.
“Now, New York State is at a pivotal moment to incorporate SEL into the framework of K-12 instruction,” states NYSED in its report on the subject. “It is clear from the increase in policy, research, and practice evidence that SEL is not a fad, but a fundamental aspect of education, and that NY is poised to implement SEL for all young people statewide.”
A meta-analysis of more than 200 rigorous studies shows that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrate better academic performance, improved behavior and fewer reports of depression, anxiety and stress. The SEL Lab set out to create a space for experimentation and observation of practices to cultivate well-being.
The activities included guided meditation, painting, journaling and many other topics. The intention was to explore a variety of SEL strategies that can inform an educator’s approach in the classroom and in their personal lives, for their benefit and the students’. The labs engaged with instructional strategies to help students learn and practice social emotional skills, attitudes and behaviors as outlined in the NYSED SEL goals. Participants also learned strategies to build more welcoming classroom learning communities.
“Sunny and I wanted to design an experiential professional learning mini-series that invited participants to experiment with a range of self-care strategies, including mindfulness,” Beth Dryer said. “By meeting four times over the course of the school year, we were able to help participants cultivate self-compassion and an overall improved sense of well-being. In fact, 100 percent of the participants who responded to the post-learning survey indicated that their experience in the SEL Lab greatly improved their overall sense of well-being. In addition approximately 90% of respondents noted that the SEL Lab helped them to become more self-aware and better able to self-regulate so as to not project onto students and colleagues.”