When you look at the research behind social emotional learning, it highlights a multitude of benefits for communities of learners. The literature suggests that a holistic approach supports positive development, and that academic achievement and emotional skills are not mutually exclusive.
This year has no doubt created new obstacles, challenges and demands on families which has required a great deal of flexibility, adaptability, and inner resiliency. Now more than ever, it has been paramount that our school communities stay connected, and those spaces which support wellness and well-being are intentionally folded into our school days.
At the Learning from Home School (LFHS) | L'École Apprendre-chez-soi (EACS), the staff have been working hard all year to ensure families have supports in place, and that teachers are providing thoughtful experiences which support social emotional learning. The LFHS/EACS has utilized best practices, research, special programming, and a spirit of collaboration to support their students while learning from home.
Below is a list of some of the ways staff are supporting a balanced approach to teaching and learning.
- Incorporating lessons from the Well-Being Playbook. This book is described as "pulling from leading experts and drawn from the best available evidence, as a hands-on guide filled with everyday tools and actions to nurture your own mental well-being and the well-being of others."
- Utilizing Thrival Learning Kits and accompanying lessons supported through the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Province of Manitoba.
- Co-teaching lessons with support from the student services team.
- Supporting social emotional check-ins and extra academic support outside school hours from a team of thoughtful instructional interns.
- Using themes such as compassion, self-care, gratitude and forgiveness to anchor lessons and conversations.
- Offering weekly lessons during Thoughtful Tuesday/Thursday and Wellness Wednesdays led by student services teacher Ms. Sharmila Sukhan for classes in grades 6 through 8.
- Providing different clubs and extracurriculars which offers everything from eSports and Minecraft to Movement Mondays and a lunchtime friendship club.
- Using Microsoft Teams Social Blocks, where students connect, share, and have time to be social with each other within student generated Teams channels.
- Additional integration of the music and visual arts, physical education, and engaging movement breaks.
- Providing opportunities to learn different strategies and ideas which support wellness. Topics have included such things as yoga, stress management, visualization, the five senses, and exploration of human emotions and understanding how the brain works.
In speaking with student services teacher Sharmila Sukhan about her role in leading lessons with classroom teachers, she had the following to share, "the lessons have come from the conversations I had with my teachers. It began as a response to what we were observing, and through this data it anchored what we felt our students needed. By sharing different strategies and ideas each week, it allowed students to decide what worked best for them, their unique context, and their learning environment. At the end of the day, it was about supporting students to feel grounded and to stay present, especially during those difficult times."