Supporting Students’ Social and Emotional Learning

The Board of Education engaged in a discussion about the district’s focus on the Whole Child and how that body of work supports students’ social and emotional learning at the December 1 Focus on Achievement session.

Board Member Happy Haynes said, “Everywhere we go we hear resounding support for our focus and work on the Whole Child, and I want to give kudos to our team because it feels a lot to our schools like support and not just another mandate.”

DPS is leading the nation in the level of effort and attention around Whole Child supports because we know — and research shows — it will not only improve academic outcomes, but is critical to achieving our vision that Every Child Succeeds. In DPS, we are committed to providing equitable and inclusive environments where we ensure students are Healthy, Supported, Engaged, Challenged, Safe, and Socially and Emotionally Intelligent.

National research clearly shows behavioral health is intricately connected to academic and social success at school. Social and emotional intelligence is gauged by a student’s competency in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

Associate Chief of Student Equity and Opportunity Eldridge Greer suggested a number of district actions that will ultimately strengthen students’ social and emotional skills and asked the board for feedback on the district’s theory of action. Greer discussed investments being made in social and emotional supports resulting from passage of the mill levy override in November, including:

  • Providing all schools with additional funds to more meaningfully serve the social and emotional learning of their students
  • Expansion of Summer Academy to 185 hours for 2,500 students and ensuring 1,000 more students can attend other summer learning by providing a full-day camp for siblings ages 5 through 12

Greer said we are seeing dramatic increases in the use of social workers, nurses, psychologists and other behavioral health employees in schools, which is attributed to the realization that our students have social and emotional needs that must be addressed in order for them to be able to succeed academically.

Schools will continue to have the flexibility to use their data to ensure school-based decision making around social and emotional learning and Whole Child supports. Greer emphasized that the district will continue to focus efforts around “big bets” believed to best support social and emotional intelligence, specifically:

  • ECE-21 scope and sequence
  • Increased supports for elementary schools
  • Restorative practices
  • Community partnerships
  • Personal success factors
  • Trauma-informed practices

You can view the full presentation here.