The Importance of Drug, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention & Education in Schools and the Effect It Has

The latest Monitoring the Future survey revealed that drug abuse is declining among America’s teens, yet an alarming number of students are still putting their lives at risk by abusing drugs and alcohol. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, around 50% of teenagers have tried illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime. With illicit drugs, misuse of prescription drugs, and binge drinking providing cause for concern across the US, it’s useful to explore and analyze the importance of drug, alcohol and substance abuse education in schools and to evaluate the impact it has.  

The importance of substance abuse education in schools

  Education provided in schools plays an instrumental role in educating children and teens about the potential implications of their actions and habitual behaviors. Many parents choose to speak to their children about taking drugs and drinking alcohol, but not every child will receive an education of this type at home. Drug and alcohol education in schools can help to ensure that no child slips through the net, and also offer a different perspective of substance abuse and a different arena in which to share comments, thoughts, or experiences. Some students may be apprehensive about talking to their parents or being honest with them, and school-based activities and programs may be more effective.   There are several reasons why drug and alcohol education is crucial in schools. A comprehensive curriculum can provide pupils in middle school and high school with information that could have a significant impact on the choices they make both at school and in the future.   Essential factors to consider include:  

  • Spotting the warning signs of addiction
  • Understanding the potential implications of taking illegal drugs or drinking too much and raising awareness of addiction
  • Learning about the impact of addiction or illicit behavior on others, including friends and family members
  • Understanding how to help others who may be struggling
  • Figuring out ways to cope with stress, sadness, or anxiety without drinking or taking drugs
  • Providing an insight into the kind of help that is available if you are going through a tough time

The current situation

  2018 statistics show that although drug abuse and binge drinking are becoming less prevalent in school-aged children, there is still a long way to go. More than a third of students in the 12th grade smoked marijuana last year, with over 3% taking LSD and 2% trying cocaine. Over 13% of 12th-grade students and almost 9% of 10th-grade pupils admitted to binge drinking. The reality is that despite improvements, there are still hundreds of teens putting their lives at risk.   Drug and alcohol education can help to reduce the risk of students falling foul to drugs. This relates not only to pointing out the implications of abusing drugs or alcohol, but also to teaching children to learn to cope with potential triggers for stress, anxiety, and depression and to enable them to adopt positive ways of thinking that give them the confidence to say no to things they don’t want to do or to break a habit.  

The impact of drug, alcohol and substance abuse education in schools

  Every day you spend in school is a learning experience, but often, curriculums are so focused on mainstream educational classes that they miss out valuable life lessons. Many pupils will have little or no idea about the potential consequences of smoking cannabis or drinking shots of vodka when they try them for the first time. Often, with alcohol and marijuana, which are considered ‘soft’ substances, students assume that there is nothing to worry about, but both of these substances are highly addictive. Drug and alcohol abuse education in schools is vital for providing teens with the information they need to make choices, and equipping them with the skills they need to get by in the outside world where they may be more likely to take drugs or drink too much. Additional programs like Education Life Skills’ Marijuana Prevention course can reinforce school learning and provide additional support for educators and parents looking to help the children in their care.   There has been a great deal of debate about the efficacy of school drug education programs in the US in the past, but the National Institute of Drug Abuse suggests that school drug campaigns are effective when they are well-researched and delivered in an engaging manner that takes the target audience into account. The most recent MTF survey suggests that drug and alcohol abuse are becoming less commonplace among students at middle and high school, and this would suggest that school programs are having a positive impact. Figures for binge drinking, for example, have fallen from 31.5% of 12th graders in 1998 to 13.8% in 2018.   In addition to school programs, which are implemented as part of the curriculum, other approaches can also offer a solution. In Indiana, the mother of a 16-year-old who died after taking a synthetic drug called 25I-NBOMe, has convinced more than 40 schools across the state to participate in events and activities as part of National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week. Jeanine Motsay, mother of Sam, stressed the importance of providing students with facts and taking steps to bust myths that surround drug and alcohol consumption that are often perpetuated through music videos, TV shows, and movies.  

Prevention is better than cure

  One of the most important aims of drug and alcohol education programs should be to promote prevention. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that every $1 spent on prevention contributes to a 10-fold saving on drug treatment. One key element is adjusting the mindset of individuals who are compelled to use drugs or drink excessively as a coping mechanism. Education Life Skills’ Captivity- Substance Abuse Prevention course is designed to promote prevention in a way that helps parents and educators to help teens build self-esteem, increase confidence and adopt a way of thinking that eliminates cravings and empowers them to make better choices.   We tend to think about school classes as a means of teaching students to read maps or work out equations, but lessons that are focused on educating pupils about the risks of taking drugs and drinking excessively should form an integral part of classes for youths. These sessions, which can be supported by external programs and local and national events and campaigns, provide young people with valuable information, insightful stories, examples and case studies, and advice about seeking help or assisting others.

How Do We Stop Distracted Driving? It’s a Deadly National Crisis for Our Teens

Did you know that every single day, 9 people lose their lives and more than 1,000 people are injured on US roads as a direct result of distracted driving? Distracted driving is a problem across all age groups, but studies suggest that teenagers are the most commonly affected demographic. The CDC claims that drivers under 20 are more likely to be killed in a car crash caused by distracted driving than any other age bracket. The statistics don’t lie, so why is distracted driving so common among young people, and what can we do to put a stop to it? What exactly is distracted driving? Distracted driving is a term given to anything that takes your eyes or your attention off the road. There are 3 main types of distraction, including

  1. Visual: this is a distraction that causes you to take your eyes off the road, for example, reading a text message
  2. Manual: this form of distraction makes you take your hands off the wheel, for example, opening a message on your phone or adjusting the radio
  3. Cognitive: cognitive distractions prevent you from focusing on driving, for example, talking to a passenger

The most common type of distraction for drivers under the age of 20 is using a cellphone. This may relate to making phone calls, texting or reading text messages or emails, or using social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. When you’re on your phone, the risk of being involved in an accident is high. You might not have both hands on the wheel if you’re holding the handset, your focus won’t be on driving, and your eyes will be on the screen, rather than on the road. Texting while you drive is particularly dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reading or sending a message involves you taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which is sufficient time to drive the length of a football pitch.

What are the consequences of distracted driving?

One of the most important messages we can provide teenage drivers with via Education Lifeskills courses and awareness programs in middle and high schools is the gravity of the consequences of distracted driving. When you drive a car, you’re not just responsible for your own safety, you also have a duty to protect others from harm. This includes passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users. The implications of distracted driving can be horrific and life-altering. Examples include:

  • Legal action and police charges, fines, and penalties
  • Harming yourself and sustaining injuries
  • Injuring or even killing another person
  • Damage to your car
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Dealing with parental disappointment and anger
  • Losing your license

There are driving laws in place to prevent distracted driving, but there are also many things educators, parents, and external providers of courses and programs for youths can do to encourage young drivers to be responsible behind the wheel. Here are some ideas to promote distracted driving awareness in schools and communities:

  • Providing driver education classes in middle and high school: most students learn to drive outside of school, but offering sessions that are designed to highlight risks and encourage safe driving can be an incredibly useful addition to the curriculum.
  • Organize events and campaigns that raise awareness of common causes of accidents among teens, including distracted driving, drink driving, and speeding. Schools in Williamson County launched a new program called Checkpoints after losing five students in crashes between November 2016 and January 2017. This involved engaging in one-to-one training sessions in order to obtain a parking permit for the school. The county also applied for a grant to provide schools with VR goggles to provide students with an accurate insight into what happens when you face potentially hazardous situations.
  • Talk about the risks of distracted driving in classes and offer additional sessions for those who want to learn more. If students are aware of the risk of texting while they drive, they’ll be more likely to put their phone down when they take to the wheel.
  • Use case studies and facts to back up your argument: many of us assume that car crashes are something that happens to other people, but the reality is that anybody can be involved in an accident. Using case studies and statistics and facts can help to clarify your argument and make teens more aware of the risks of taking their eyes off the road, even for a second. A CDC survey from 2015 suggests that over 40% of young people text or send emails while they drive.
  • Discuss external organizations and arrange talks for young drivers: there are several organizations that specialize in promoting safe driving among teens, including End Distracted Driving and Impact Teen Drivers, and there’s also a host of online resources available. Education Lifeskills offers a great, interactive Distracted Driver course for teen drivers who find it difficult to stay focused when they’re driving.
  • Limiting the use of cellphones in schools to get students used to being away from their phones.

Why is distracted driving so common in teens?

Today’s teenagers have grown up in a world that is very different due to the rise in popularity of the Internet, cellphones and social media. Research suggests that Americans check their phones up to 80 times per day, and the figure may be even higher among teens. Young people communicate by phone, they like to keep in touch with friends and family throughout the day, and many also feel obliged to keep tabs of their social media accounts. A poll conducted by the AAA suggests that 94% of teen drivers are aware of the potential risks of texting while driving, but over a third still do it. Teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in crashes than adults when texting or talking on a cell phone. Part of the problem is that teens are so used to having their phones with them all the time that they can’t resist the temptation to make a call, scan their Instagram feed, or send a text even though they’re driving. The aims of campaigns and distracted driving courses should be to educate young drivers about the consequences of distracted driving, but also to highlight the fact that you don’t have to be connected to your phone 24-hours-a-day. If a call is urgent, it’s much safer to pull over or to use an in-car hands-free system. Education Lifeskills’ course is not a traffic program, but rather a training module that emphasizes the importance of a safety-first approach to driving. Distracted driving is the most common cause of car accidents among young drivers. To tackle the crisis, teenage drivers, parents, educators, nonprofits, and external training providers can work together to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and make our roads a safer place for everyone.

Setting Social Emotional Goals for Yourself & Students

Although education has typically been viewed as being about giving students academic and technical skills, there’s an increasing recognition that social-emotional development is important, too.

Data suggest that IQ is not a complete predictor of job performance. EQ, or a person’s emotional intelligence quotient, is possibly more critical because of the growing role of collaboration, teamwork, and interpersonal skills in the modern workplace.

The question for educators, therefore, is how to set better social-emotional goals for themselves and their students. In short, what can educators do to foster emotional development among the people in their care to help them get to where they want to go?

Recognize That Goals Should Be Unique To The Individual

When it comes to our emotions, people are different. Some people have issues regarding anger, while for others self-attack and rumination lead to mood disorders, like anxiety. Any suitable goal setting strategy must reflect the individual needs of the person concerned.

Use The SMART System

Setting goals shouldn’t be a blind process either for you or your students. It should be couched in a framework derived from the science of behavioral change, like the SMART system.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Goals should be specific in the sense that they should refer to a particular social-emotional circumstance, like how you or your students feel while in group situations. For instance, a student might want to address his or her feelings of fear or laziness while working with other people.

Goals should be measurable. That is, a person should be able to use a method to ensure that they are making progress.

Goals should be attainable. When goals are perceived as too difficult, then people are less likely to want to strive for them. Goals should be challenging enough to provoke real progress, but not so hard as to appear impossible from the start.

Goals need to be relevant. Relevance refers to the idea that developing one’s social-emotional status is something that is worth doing. Here it’s worth highlighting the benefits of better social-emotional skills, including the ability to form lasting, sustainable relationships, advance faster in a career, or make more progress doing something entrepreneurial.

Finally, goals should be time-based. Time creates pressure to achieve goals sooner rather than later so that they are not put off indefinitely. A time-based social-emotional goal might be to overcome one’s frustrations about something before the end of the year.

Spend Time Reflecting On Goals

Once you and your students have established a set of goals, it’s a good idea to reflect on them. The purpose of reflection is to evaluate whether the goals meet the SMART criteria. An individual may initially believe that their social-emotional goals do conform to the requirements, but following discussion with you and other students, it could turn out that they don’t. Useful goal setting, therefore, requires a degree of reflection and external moderation. Sharing goals helps to improve accountability and develops support between group members. Goals can be a team effort, with mutually-interlocking support structures.

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Recommended Books for Social Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning is fast becoming a bedrock of modern approaches to education. Social-emotional learning books help students develop independence from teachers and caregivers, preparing them for life outside of school in the modern workplace and higher education.

What are some good books for social-emotional learning? Let’s take a look.

Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C. Jones

When Jones set out to create Matthew and Tilly, her vision was to teach children about the profound benefits of conflict resolution. The story is set around the tale of a black girl called Tilly and a white boy named Matthew. The story begins with Matthew and Tilly playing together happily, but they get into an argument over a crayon. The fight results in both children going their separate ways and trying to play by themselves.

The problem is that they each end up resenting the fact that they are alone. Sure, there’s no need to negotiate with another person, but there’s also less fun when experiencing something alone. The story concludes with the pair making up and agreeing to play together once more; the moral of the story being that it’s worth the effort of negotiating with other people so that everybody can get along.

The Book Of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Many people grow up with a “fear of failure.” Thanks to some modern educational practices and pressure from caregivers, children can begin to associate their achievements with their personal value from a young age. Not only is this emotionally unhelpful, but it can also lead people to avoid challenges in the future, should they be revealed as incompetent.

Luyken, therefore, set out to show the positive side of “mistakes” or “failures.” Her book follows the story of people who turned their mistakes into fabulous success, thanks to what they learned early on. Errors can create the inspiration that changes a person’s life. They should be viewed as valuable information and an incentive to change one’s behavior or outlook, not an indication of some personal lack of worth.

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Negative self-talk is a plague on our society, ruining the lives of those who would otherwise be perfectly adequate people. Beaumont set out to create a book which helps foster positive self-talk in children, arresting damaging cycles of rumination that can develop early on in life.

Her story focuses on the notion that we should have a positive attitude towards ourselves, regardless of the opinions of others.

Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Marie Letourneau’s book, Argyle Fox, focuses on the story of a young fox who wants to play games and have fun outside. However, the wind keeps on scuppering his plans, ruining his fun by blowing down his card tower. Letourneau’s purpose in this book is to teach children the value of perseverance and overcoming challenges. Sometimes things in life are hard. A child might feel frustrated, but the way to overcome frustration is to deal with it head-on, figure out what you’re doing wrong, and then make modifications. It’s about experimentation and positive attitudes.

 

Impact of Social Emotional Learning on Student Achievement 100%

Social and emotional learning is an approach to education that has been growing in popularity, focusing on creating a safe and positive learning environment that fosters an ability to succeed not just in school, but in careers and throughout life.

With schools that are growing more diverse, with students from multicultural backgrounds, different social upbringings, and a range of economic circumstances, it can help children better engage in learning, positive behavior, and social engagement with peers. But what is the impact of social & emotional learning (SEL) on student achievement? Here, we’re going to look at how SEL also provides a positive influence on academic performance.

What is social & emotional learning?

Studies have shown that SEL can help improve academic achievement by 11 percentile points on average, besides improving socially cohesive attributes, such as sharing and empathy and combating mental health issues like stress and anxiety. But how does it do this? Through working with schools, families, and throughout the communities, SEL takes an approach of developing five key skills that can greatly improve the attitudes of students towards schools. The five skills are as follows:

Self-awareness: Understanding of one’s emotions, goals, and values. By assessing our strengths and shortcomings, we can improve our mindsets regarding our own performance, leading to optimism and improved self-esteem

Self-management: When we are more aware of the connections between our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we can better regulate them. Skills like stress management, delaying gratification, and impulse control help students manage their own reactions and keep a positive, productive mindset when faced with challenges, especially in school.

Social awareness: Better understanding social norms in a given context, such as school, family, and the wider community, as well as awareness of support and resources available can help us be more connected to our network, helped with lessons on empathy, compassion, and understanding those in different circumstances.

Relationship skills: With social awareness opens the door to fostering healthier relationships. Building relationship skills like active listening, communication skills, cooperation, and conflict negotiation can help us build a network of more rewarding relationships with peers and teachers.

Responsible decision making: Learning how to make constructive choices when it comes to behavior, interactions, and academic goals. This includes learning now just how to set achievable aims but also to address ethics, safety, and behavioral norms regarding the situation. Better evaluations of actions and consequences can help students stay safe and responsible.

To many of us, these behaviors may seem intuitive. However, they need to be learned and need to be taught. By assuming that all students come to school with these skills already ingrained in them is to put them at an automatic disadvantage compared to their peers. This can lead to major differences in academic achievement between students. How does SEL and the skills mentioned above contribute to achievement in the classroom and beyond?

How SEL contributes directly to achievement

As mentioned, a meta-analysis of schools, parents, and students that have incorporated social & emotional learning practices has shown an average of an 11 percentile point rise in students’ achievement scores. The range of soft skills learned through SEL contribute to this greatly, but one of the primary benefits is the change in attitude towards school. Understanding the importance of responsible decision making in school, being more aware of their own habits and how to control them, and the rewards that come with delayed gratification and better relationships in the school make a direct impact on academic achievement.

Social cohesion and academic success

Better awareness of social norms and appropriate behavior can help prevent students from inappropriate interactions that can sabotage their relationships with peers, teachers, and parents. This can prove a roadblock to the positive relationships that help create better attitudes towards schools and may make it harder to develop productive bonds with teachers, meaning they get less attention in the classroom. SEL can help students get along better with others and can develop the close student-teacher relationships that are a crucial ingredient of academic achievement. These close relationships encourage students to perform better, to embrace challenges, to seek help when they need it. Furthermore, they can lead to outcomes like references when going into further education or the workforce, helping students achieve well beyond the classroom.

Behavioral improvement and achievement

Many a teacher, parent, guardian and even student are aware that behavioral problems can impede achievement. Behavioral infractions in the class can lead to missed school time, actively sabotaging their education. Furthermore, acting inappropriately due to poor impulse control can damage the relationships a student has with their peers and teachers, negatively impacting their attitudes towards school in the long-term. SEL students are overall less aggressive and less disruptive in school, as well as being less likely to have behavior and substance abuse problems before the age of 25.

Mental health and academic success

School can be a stressful time for any student, at any age. Changes in one’s own personality and perspective, as well as a shift in our own social positioning can manifest in many negative ways. Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal are on the rise, specifically in teenagers and most especially in teenage girls. Students engaged in social & emotional learning show fewer occurrences of these problems across the board. This is due in part to self-management skills like planning, improved attention spans, and the ability to control their own impulses and reflect on their own thoughts. Given how mental health can greatly affect our self-esteem as well as our ability to devote more attention to a task, it should be no surprise these changes can lead to better academic achievement.

Ongoing studies are continuing to prove what those engaged with social & emotional learning have already known for some time. Teaching the skills that often get left behind in the classroom can help even the playing field for a range of students from different cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, making a positive impact on achievement for everyone involved.

 

The Importance of Relationships in Social Emotional Learning

Academic skills are often seen as a necessity in modern life. School is seen as mandatory and it’s important for young children to begin studying as early as possible in order to prepare for their future. Unfortunately, far too much emphasis is being placed on academic skills and little attention is being paid to other aspects of life such as key social emotional skills that are also essential for their development and to improve their lives.

More and more people are starting to challenge educational norms by pointing out the lack of attention given to social and emotional learning. If more focus was placed on developing relationships between educators and their students, it can help young children develop essential social and emotional skills that will also assist in their development.

What is social emotional learning?

Social emotional learning is the process of acquiring and applying the knowledge and skills required to manage emotions. For instance, the ability to show empathy for others, being able to self-motivate yourself through setting goals, and also learning to take responsibility for the decisions. It’s about being intelligent with your emotions and being able to control them for the sake of overcoming emotional and mental health obstacles that are required not just to succeed in school, but also to prepare for conflicts in workplaces and at home that could cause added stress.

What are examples of social emotional skills?

There are several different social emotional skills that play important roles in helping one manage their emotions and behaviours.

  • Self-awareness – Being self-aware of your emotional state and understanding your own feelings.
  • Self-control – The ability to act on your self-awareness and controlling the actions that result from your emotions.
  • Self-confidence – Ability to believe in your own skills and ability in order to live a fulfilling life where you don’t doubt yourself all the time.
  • Self-motivation – Being able to set your own goals in life and take appropriate actions in order to fulfil those goals.

 

    • Tenacity – Staying mentally focused in order to stick to your goals and see them through to the end without giving up and losing your motivation.

 

  • Rational problem-solving – Separating rational thinking from your emotions in order to solve problems that you encounter in everyday life.
  • Relationship building – Communicating with others, cooperating with them and forming friends and bonds that help you avoid and resolve conflict.

 

These are just a couple of examples of social emotional skills that are of great importance to anyone’s life. Possessing these abilities will ultimately give a child more confidence in themselves, allowing them to develop more quickly and overcome stressful situations that could negatively affect their mental state at a younger age.

How does social and emotional learning affect schools?

Studies have started to point towards a correlation between social and emotional learning and a child’s wellbeing at both school and home. By encouraging teachers to make children aware of these social emotional skills, it can create a positive impact on their wellbeing and help them live more fulfilling and mentally stable lives. Social and emotional skills can also help children settle into their classrooms and to make meaningful relationships with their peers, allowing them to progress quickly through their learning and reduce the number of distractions and stressful situations that they could encounter.

Social and emotional learning is designed to teach children how to form and manage positive relationships, making their school the ideal environment to learn and practice their social skills. Schools can create many different social situations that are similar to real-world occurrences. This includes meeting new friends, settling into new classrooms with familiar faces, networking with new groups of acquaintances through existing relationships and even identifying and dealing with instances of bullying. By giving children the skills required to recognize and respond to different emotions, it empowers them to communicate their feelings more effectively. This means fewer misunderstandings and a deeper connection between a child and their peers, resulting in an overall more positive atmosphere in schools and other educational institutes.

Sadly, the relationship between a children and teachers is often forgotten

Social emotional learning programs are offered in most schools now, but very few of these focus on the relationships between children and their teachers despite the advantages that it can offer to both parties. If more emphasis was placed on forming relationships between a child and their teachers, it could help children better learn and understand the concepts surrounding social and emotional learning.

Although the intentions of social and emotional learning programs are good, the approach taken misses a fantastic opportunity to help children develop their social emotional skills with teachers who are far more experienced in life and can offer real-world examples and situations that give children more insight into social norms that they will be following in the future.

Studies have shown that social and emotional learning practices have drastically improved student wellbeing, productivity and behaviour. They can help students and teachers form stronger long-lasting relationships that benefit both parties by improving psychological health and wellbeing. Sadly, few schools are taking social and emotional learning seriously because they simply don’t understand the benefits that it can provide to both teachers and students.

Conclusion

When strong relationships are formed between students and their teachers, it creates a positive environment that reduces stress across the board and drastically improves productivity, behaviour and mental stability for everyone involved. Unfortunately, very little focus is being put on student relationships with their teachers especially when social and emotional learning is involved.

One of the biggest hurdles for both children and teachers to overcome is the lack of training regarding social emotional learning practices across many schools. Teachers, parents and even students understand its benefits, but teachers need to become role models for the social and emotional learning skills that they want to teach to their students and this requires educating the educators first. With this roadblock out of the way, we can start to see the real benefits of social and emotional learning programmes and how focusing on teacher-student relationships can benefit everyone.

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for High School

High school marks one of the fastest periods of growth in any student’s life as they prepare for the transition into adulthood, facing questions of entering the working world or pursuing further education. Yet, while they may feel academically prepared, they may be uncertain about the social and emotional issues they are currently facing and will continue to face. To help them both excel in their ongoing education and to prepare them for life, Education Lifeskills has created its Social & Emotional Learning curriculum for high school students.

Our courses can help students overcome issues of low self-esteem, self-confident, poor cooperation, social awareness, and to learn about self-awareness, impulse control, and responsible decision-making to improving their empathy and teamwork.

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning aims to fill the gaps widely recognized within the traditional education system. Many schools, parents, and students are growing more aware of the skills that aren’t as widely taught in the average curriculum. This includes managing our own emotions, managing positive goals, growing empathy for others, nurturing positive social relationships, and responsible decision-making. As a result, Social Emotional Learning was adopted to help teach these values and skills, with more schools, parents, and students quickly growing the movement.

Our Social & Emotional Learning curriculum for high school students helps to prepare them for the future. It teaches skills that can improve their ability to engage with their education, to set and meet goals, and manage their own reactions to setbacks, but also teaches a variety of skills that can help beyond school. By teaching empathy, a focus on cooperation, and the management of negative emotions, it can create a more resilient student ready for the step beyond high school.

What Social Emotional Learning can teach in High School

Delivered through a series of individual courses, each of which can broken down into four or more units, an Education Lifeskills program can deliver a consistently engaging, yet comprehensive introduction and approach to the concepts and skills that can help high school students better cope with the demands of their school life and prepare for their academic or career future. Each course fits into one of the five core categories of Social Emotional Learning:

  • Self-awareness: Learning to understand our own emotions and recognizing how they influence behavior. This includes coming to grasps with negative and positive emotions, so students can learn how to manage their responses to stress and setbacks while also building a sense of optimism and determination.
  • Self-management: Looking more closely at the relationship between emotion and behavior to better control our reactions to different situations. This includes becoming mindful of triggers of stress, controlling our own impulses, and making better use of our strengths to achieve goals inside and outside of the school.
  • Social awareness: Developing the ability to empathize, to understand, and to learn from those with experiences outside our own. Students can learn about the differences in norms, experiences, and cultures to better react to what may initially seem unfamiliar to them.
  • Relationship skills: Building and sustaining healthy, respectful relationships. This teaches skills such as active listening, improving communication, and conflict resolution. It also helps students recognize hallmarks of more potentially dangerous relationships, such as inappropriate social pressure.
  • Responsible decision making: Learning about goals and priorities, and finding the constructive, healthy choices that can better build towards them. An understanding of potential realistic consequences and the ability to better negotiate multiple factors acting on any decisions can help students make better choices in education and in life.

High school already tests these five competencies, as students become more self-directed in their learning, engage with teams more, negotiate more complex relationships, and face more challenges and setbacks than ever. As a result, our Social Emotional Learning program is designed to help them better manage and engage with the concepts they are already dealing with.

How Education Lifeskills delivers Social Emotional Learning

Whether it’s being taught to a single student or an entire classroom, our Social Emotional learning curriculum is designed to be flexible to the needs of the educator and the student. They are applicable in a variety of formats, whether it is self-directed to be learned with the help of a facilitator or a group lesson for the traditional student environment. Our courses all make use of Blended Learning, too, which offers both offline and online learning options, delivered together to ensure that the most engaging and effective format is always used.

Each course within the program takes between 4-6 hours to complete. The courses are divided into units, making it easier for parents, counselors, and teachers to spread it out over time, allowing the student the opportunity to develop at their own pace.

Our Learning Management System can improve the Social Emotional Learning experience all the more. This eLearning platform helps facilitators such as parents and teachers deliver, manage and track lessons, while providing a range of online learning mediums, such as storytelling, animation, gamification, and self-assessment to better engage students. Digital learning options have been shown to improve student engagement, allowing teachers and parents to think beyond the traditional classroom format to ensure each lesson is delivered in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

The impact of a Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for High School

Building an understanding of their own emotions, an awareness of their place in relationships and society, and providing skills that help them better engage their own behaviors and their group efforts, Social Emotional Learning can play an important role in preparing high school students for their future. Here are just a few of the benefits seen by the program:

  • Better academic performance
  • Improved attitudes and behaviors and an increased commitment to education
  • Less classroom disruption, noncompliance, aggression and delinquency.
  • Fewer reports of stress, anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.

A Social Emotional Learning can equip students with the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and insights they use in both high school and the world beyond. Explore the site to find out more about how Education Lifeskills can help us create a better class of students.

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for Middle School

In order to ensure the most comprehensive education possible, Education Lifeskills has created a Social & Emotional Learning curriculum for middle school students. Built to accompany the traditional middle school experience, it’s designed to help growing students overcome issues of low self-esteem, self-confident, poor cooperation, social awareness, and to equip young minds with some insight and planning ability for their future and their place in a society that they’re starting to grow more familiar with.

From learning about the building blocks of self-awareness, impulse control, and responsible decision-making to improving their empathy and teamwork, Education Lifeskills’ social emotional learning curriculum for middle school uses modern teaching methods linked with digital technology to make the learning experience as accessible and as effective as possible.

What is Social Emotional Learning?

More schools, parents, and students are joining the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) as a means of making the education experience truly comprehensive. Many are growing concerned that many students are growing without the critical skills as outlined by the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning: understanding and managing emotions, setting and achieving positive goals, feeling and showing empathy for others, establishing and maintaining positive social relationships, and making responsible decisions.

Our Social & Emotional Learning curriculum teaches five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. As a result, it better prepares middle school students for the increasing demand of education as they grow, ensuring that they know how to maintain their own wellbeing and how to commit to their studies. It also prepares them for life beyond school, with skills that can help them succeed in the real world, too.

As a result of Social Emotional Learning, students are more likely to perform better academically, see improvements in attitudes and behaviors, reduce disruptive classroom behavior, and increase their own emotional stability.

What Social Emotional Learning can teach in Middle School

Each Education Lifeskills program contains a year’s worth of material, helping students learn the skills critical for that particular part of their life. The Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for Middle School teaches a wide variety of lessons, each of which fit into these five core categories:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to learn, recognize, and better understand one’s own emotions and how our emotions become our behavior patterns. Besides learning to better handle negative emotions like anger, stress, and responses to setbacks, it also focuses on building positive responses such as resilience, self-motivation, and optimism.
  • Self-management: How we regulate and manage our own emotions, behaviors, and thoughts in different situations. From managing stress to improving our own impulse control to recognizing and working with our strengths to understanding and working towards our academic and personal goals.
  • Social awareness: Education, academia, and the world of work all demand the ability to look outward at others. As a result, we help students learn how to empathize with others, to develop a willingness to be open-minded and respectful of others and to improve their reaction to norms, experiences, and cultures that may not be their own.
  • Relationship skills: Students also learn how to nurture and maintain healthy relationships with a focus on cooperation, communication, conflict resolution, resisting inappropriate social pressure, active listening, and actively offering and seeking help when necessary. As a result, it can help students understand and build relationships that offer real value.
  • Responsible decision making: The skills to make healthy and safe choices that are constructive and respectful with the understanding of ethical standards, social norms, forward-thinking and evaluation of realistic consequences, and a focus on wellbeing of the self and others.

The program contains a multitude of different courses, each of them falling within the five core competencies to ensure that middle school students grow to make the best use of their developmental learning time. For the majority of students, school is already where they manage most of their social relationships, opportunities for growth, and where they encounter the most challenges. Our Social Emotional Learning program simply helps them to better understand and engage with it.

How Education Lifeskills delivers Social Emotional Learning

All of our courses are designed to be deliverable by parents, teachers, or counselors, adaptable to individual students as well as entire classrooms. Each individual course within the program takes between 4-6 hours to complete and are broken down into a number of units so that the student has the time to further explore, engage with, and absorb the lessons from each unit when implemented alongside their traditional education.

Each course comes with a variety of recommended uses, as well. Many of our courses are self-directed, allowing them to work independently alongside a parent or teacher, or to be completed in a group format with a facilitator. Our courses also come with a Blended Learning option, which allows students to mix a combination of offline and online curriculum to give them new ways to better engage the subject.

Many of the courses within our Social Emotional Learning curriculum for middle school make use of Education Lifeskills’ Learning Management System. This is a custom eLearning solution that uses formats such as narration, storytelling, animation, gamification, and self-assessment to make the courses as interactive and engaging as possible. We can also customize our Learning Management System to better suit the needs of educators, improving their ability to deliver courses and track students.

The impact of a Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for Middle School

As part of a truly comprehensive middle school education, Social Emotional Learning courses can vastly improve a student’s awareness of their own experiences, those of their peers, and society at large. By improving their intrapersonal and interpersonal insight and ability, we see a range of benefits:

  • Better academic performance, with SEL-equipped students performing an average of 11 points higher.
  • Improved attitudes and behaviors, with more motivation to learn, increase commitment to education, and more time devoted to homework.
  • Reduction in negative behaviors, with less classroom disruption, noncompliance, aggression and delinquency.
  • Increased emotional stability, leading to fewer reports of stress, anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.

A Social Emotional Learning program helps equip students with the skills they need to create better educational environments, teams, and societies, so explore the site to learn more about what we offer.

Understanding Anger and School Shootings

School shootings have become horrifically common in recent years, and it’s a problem that educators simply cannot ignore.

Another thing we cannot ignore? The link between these shootings, anger and bullying.

In a series of articles on anger management and gun violence for Slate.com, journalist Laura Hayes writes about characteristics of mass killers.

“Many, if not all, grew up in homes where there was domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse. They are emotionally fragile,” she writes. “They’re threatened by hostility from others, and they also engender it. The dislike and hostility they raise in others leaves them isolated, and the bullying feeds a vicious cycle where kids with minimal emotional self-control are baited into greater and greater levels of hostile defensiveness.”

Hayes also provides a solution, or at least the beginning of one.

“Schools are on the front line for identifying these individuals as kids,” she writes. “In the school environment, isolation and hostility can pretty readily be observed, often by teachers and administrators, and certainly by fellow students.”

When we do identify those kids, it’s important that we go beyond labeling them as “problem children” or even “jerks” and sending them to detention. Instead,  we must advocate for programs that provide these kids anger avoidance tools and education about how to overcome violent tendencies.

The link between bullying, loss and violence

In a 2004 report of the Safe Schools Initiative, a joint project of the United States Secret Service and the Dept. of Education, researchers found that about three quarters of attackers in 37 shootings “felt bullied, persecuted, or injured by others prior to the attack.”

This points to the importance of anti-bullying education and a focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) initiatives, which are designed to help students learn coping skills.

But what about the 25 percent of kids who weren’t bullied? The report pointed to another data point that may shed some light on the issue: 98 percent of attackers “had difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures. Moreover, many had considered or attempted suicide.”

These losses included a loss of status, the loss of a romantic relationship, and a major illness in the attacker or within his family.

The study reinforces our deeply held belief in equitable and inclusive education. Rather than distancing students we might label as problem kids we need to understand them.

Think about it this way:  Often, kids are isolated and bullied by their peers. Then, they cause trouble in order to get attention. This often leads to disciplinary action, such as alternative classrooms or detention. At the same time, that kid’s peers will be told by their parents to keep their distance.

So what’s the alternative?

What educators can do

There are no easy answers here, but at Education Lifeskills, we believe that a thorough, integrated SEL the right direction is the best way forward.

We can start by using anger avoidance techniques such as:

  • Mindfulness
  • Self-awareness
  • Identifying the four sources of anger (abuse, doing wrong, force and things beyond our control
  • Staying connected with others while we work through our anger

School shootings have become horrifically common in recent years, and it’s a problem that educators simply cannot ignore.

Another thing we cannot ignore? The link between these shootings, anger and bullying.

In a series of articles on anger management and gun violence for Slate.com, journalist Laura Hayes writes about characteristics of mass killers.

“Many, if not all, grew up in homes where there was domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse. They are emotionally fragile,” she writes. “They’re threatened by hostility from others, and they also engender it. The dislike and hostility they raise in others leaves them isolated, and the bullying feeds a vicious cycle where kids with minimal emotional self-control are baited into greater and greater levels of hostile defensiveness.”

Hayes also provides a solution, or at least the beginning of one.

“Schools are on the front line for identifying these individuals as kids,” she writes. “In the school environment, isolation and hostility can pretty readily be observed, often by teachers and administrators, and certainly by fellow students.”

When we do identify those kids, it’s important that we go beyond labeling them as “problem children” or even “jerks” and sending them to detention. Instead,  we must advocate for programs that provide these kids anger avoidance tools and education about how to overcome violent tendencies.

How to get started

If your school needs specific resources for anti-bullying education, we also encourage you to read about our courses and schedule a demo.

We would also like to hear from educators around the country about how they help kids who are at risk of becoming mass shooters. Please share and comment on our social media pages, and reach out to us at learn@www.educationlifeskills.com.

Sources:

https://slate.com/technology/2018/04/anger-isnt-a-mental-illness-but-we-should-still-treat-it.html

https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/preventingattacksreport.pdf

https://www.stopbullying.gov/

Urban Collaborative Attendees: What is SEL in Practice?

If you’ve been in the education space for long, you’ve probably heard the term SEL. Most teaching professionals can even define it: social and emotional learning.

But based on what we learned recently at the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative conference, that may be where universal agreement on SEL ends.

Education Lifeskills President Trevor Lloyd attended the event alongside ONEder, one of our newest eLearning partners. He got some insight into the definition of SEL while participating in one of the conference’s many excellent breakout sessions.

Academic Definitions of SEL

For some, SEL is a pedagogy that focuses on the study and application of emotional intelligence (EI). SEL can also be defined as skills related to emotions, goal setting, empathy, relationships and decision-making.

As recently as 2015, a group of researchers from the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis at Washington University put an emphasis on awareness. They defined “SE skills” as those relating to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Even if we all agreed on a definition of SEL, what does that mean in the classroom day to day? Is that different from what it means in curriculum planning, school board meetings or budget allocation discussions?

Our Approach: SEL+CLS

Every school is different, and so is every student, every teacher and every district. There are no definitive answers. However, our 40+ years of boots-on-the-ground SEL experience have brought us to one simple focus: challenging thinking errors, and doing it in a way that doesn’t provoke resistance.

We call it SEL+CLS, or social and emotional learning PLUS cognitive life skills. Check out our courses to find out more about the Education Lifeskills methodology.

Have Opinions on SEL? Join our Education Focus Group!

We are passionate about helping students make improvements in their thinking and behavior, and we are confident that top-notch SEL can make our students’ lives happier and more successful.

But we can’t do it alone. That’s where our new focus group comes in, and we’re actively recruiting a panel of the most highly qualified SEL educators in the country.

If you’re accepted as a member of this focus group, we will ask you to demo our cognitive and behavioral life skills curriculum and our corresponding Lifeskills Link platform. We’ll just ask that you follow up with a survey. In return, we are happy to provide your school with 3 free courses at a value of $65 per course.

Why so much focus on  SEL?

While there were many discussions about what SEL is at the Urban Collaborative conference, there were many more about how important it is. We were honored to hear from the Antoine Hickman, the Urban Collective Executive Director and also the head of Exceptional Student Learning Support for Broward County in Florida. In light of the recent school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, which is in his district, his comments about the importance of SEL in preventing school violence were particularly impactful.

SEL Tweet
LeDerick Home meets with Antoine Hickman during the Urban Collaborative Conference.

We also heard from incredible educators working in Chicago, and talked with heads of special education from school districts all over the country. We were encouraged to hear about how helpful SEL can be in addressing problems ranging from the school-to-prison pipeline to dropouts, truancy, bullying and more.

 

Sources:

www.oneder.com/

www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S219458881500055X