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Missing Link


A major focus is placed on academic skills in today’s schools. Are we overlooking other areas that influence student achievement? Could it be there is another link missing in the puzzle to achieve success? Research indicates that concentrating solely on academics is not enough if we really seek to improve academic performance.

Time must be carved out to develop a common understanding of the impact of social and emotional learning on performance. After acknowledging that both academic and social and emotional skills are critical for success, then it becomes important to identify what teachers can do to increase social and emotional awareness in classrooms. Hopefully, parents will share in the development of social and emotional competence.

Students who struggle in school often lack the social and emotional skills they need to succeed academically. These students sometimes disrupt instruction, interact poorly with teachers and classmates, and demonstrate a short attention span. For the students who continuously fail to achieve academic success, it appears essential that we invest time and resources in their social and emotional development.

Strategies that can strengthen social and emotional learning include:

Establish Relationships. Guide students to form and maintain respectful, positive, and healthy relationships with others.

Teach Self-Awareness. Help students identify their strengths and interests and learn to recognize and appropriately control their emotions.

Develop Social Awareness. Promote group interactions so students learn to cooperate and become interdependent (e.g., appreciate individual differences of classmates, value the perspectives of others, collaborate to resolve conflicts, recognize and resist negative influences).

Practice Decision-Making. Provide scenarios that give students opportunities to make responsible and safe decisions; have students constructively role play authentic, realworld situations.

Facilitate Self-Monitoring. Involve students in personal and academic goal-setting; have students monitor themselves to determine the next steps to take if their actions toward goals are not achieved.

Social and emotional competence most assuredly influences the ability of students to learn and achieve in school. As educators and parents, it is crucial we recognize that a combination of academic skills and non-tested skills (or skills in nonacademic subject areas) contribute to student success.

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