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News and Notes

Diving Deeper: Social Emotional Learning at WLPS

Getting “It” Done!

I believe no other PreK-12 educational organization works harder than WLPS.  As a superintendent, part of my job is to place work in front of people and set goals for completion.  As you can imagine, there are times when our staff isn’t happy about the work. But, nobody turns their backs on it.  We get “it” done.

Since its inception, News and Notes has been a collection of good-news stories emanating from our classrooms.  With so many stories to share, it was fun to put “it” out there. But, “it” is getting really good.  WLPS has taken many steps to improve our educational opportunities in the past four years. I wanted to take time this year to dive deeper into all of “it.”  “It” is, after all, why we are here.

So you can expect the following each month:

  • First Friday: Facebook LIVE “Off the Deep End with DeKeyser” where I’ll be interviewing special guests live from the WLHS Community Pool deck. 
  • Second and Third Fridays: “Diving Deeper” where we will be taking a deeper look at an aspect important to the education we provide at WLPS whether in a blog post from a guest contributor or in a LIVE broadcast. 
  • Fourth Fridays: News and Notes blog from yours truly. We will stick with our traditional format continuing to share with you the good news and any updates coming out of WLPS.

Our first dive into “it” is a deeper look into social emotional learning at WLPS from our Director of Instruction, Jill Henry.  

While it isn’t the first Friday, we are kicking off our Off the Deep End with DeKeyser Facebook LIVE segment next Friday to share information about Homecoming in a few weeks. Tune into our Facebook page next Friday, September 21, as Ali DiDio, WLHS Student Council President, joins me as my first guest. We will be going LIVE from the WLHS Community Pool deck at 12:30 p.m. See you then, Trojans. 

–Tom DeKeyser, Superintendent and MS/HS Principal

Guest Contributor: Jill Henry, Director of Instruction

Although this blog is about “diving deeper,” the information shared in this post really only scratches the surface of social emotional learning. This background knowledge sets the stage for a continued in-depth look at how we approach social emotional learning at WLPS.

Social Emotional Learning

Last spring, stakeholders from both the school and community engaged in a strategic planning process. One of the outcomes of this work was the need to adopt and implement a K-12 social emotional learning program. To that end, a couple of goals were set for the upcoming year — including sharing with our school community what social emotional learning is and how it connects to academic learning.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the world’s leading organization promoting integrated academic, social, and emotional learning for all children in preschool through high school. According to CASEL, social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing students’ social and emotional competencies–the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that individuals need to make successful choices.

CASEL identifies five social and emotional competencies, which are composed of multiple skills and abilities:

  • Self-awareness: the ability to recognize one’s own feelings, interests, strengths, and limitations
  • Self-management: the ability to regulate emotions and manage daily stressors
  • Social awareness: the ability to perceive a situation from an alternative point of view and to appreciate similarities and differences
  • Relationship skills: the ability to demonstrate positive social skills in order to develop meaningful relationships
  • Responsible decision making: the ability to make ethical decisions, and the ability to develop appropriate solutions to identified problems

Ultimately, developing SEL skills improves student capacity to engage in academic learning and prepares students to meet college and career readiness standards. In order to engage in rigorous standards, students need to be able to regulate their emotions when they become frustrated, collaborate with their peers, communicate their ideas, and take the perspective of others.

Both Whitmore Lake Elementary School and Whitmore Lake Middle and High School address the social emotional learning needs of students through a variety of formal and informal channels. Programs already in place include the Second Step program, PBIS, the Responsible Thinking Process, and Project SUCCESS. Over the next year, we will evaluate the effectiveness of these programs as well as the other tools and resources we use to develop social and emotional competencies. We look forward to updating you as we work to improve what we already do, address identified areas of need, and implement a comprehensive social emotional learning program for the students of WLPS.

To learn more about social emotional learning you can visit the CASEL website here. You can also read the Michigan Department of Education Early Childhood to Grade 12 Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies and Indicators here.

I look forward to providing you with deeper insight into the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in future Diving Deeper blog posts. If there’s a topic you’re curious about or would like to see featured, please reach out to me at jill.henry@wlps.net.

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