Emotional Safety is Key to Learning

Throughout my time working with students, I have read many studies about how to keep students engaged during lessons. What many fail to consider is how do we engage the child who is not quite ready to learn. Maybe this student didn’t get a good night of sleep or the student deals with feelings of self-doubt, especially when it comes to academics.

Emotional Safety
Emotional Safety

But what is emotional safety? The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments defines emotional safety as “an experience in which one feels safe to express emotions, security and confidence to take risks and feel challenged and excited to try something new.” Our emotions have an impact on how we feel about ourselves, the way we communicate with others and how we learn, Let me reiterate that: Emotions have an impact on how we learn!! They help us to process information and aid with comprehension. It can also be termed as social and emotional learning.

According to the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments by focusing on children’s social and emotional learning, we are working to create children that are skilled in five critical areas:

  1. They are self-aware. They are able to recognize their emotions, describe their interests and values, and accurately assess their strengths. They have a well-grounded sense of self-confidence and hope for the future.
  2. They are able to regulate their emotions. They are able to manage stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles. They can set and monitor progress toward the achievement of personal and academic goals and express their emotions appropriately in a wide range of situations.
  3. They are socially aware. They are able to take the perspective of and empathize with others and recognize and appreciate individual and group similarities and differences. They are able to seek out and appropriately use family, school, and community resources.
  4. They have good relationship skills. They can establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation. They resist inappropriate social pressure; constructively prevent, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflict; and seek and provide help when needed.
  5. They demonstrate responsible decision-making at school, at home, and in the community. In making decisions, they consider ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and the likely consequences of various courses of action. They apply these decision-making skills in academic and social situations and are motivated to contribute to the well-being of their schools and communities.

Not too long ago, I write a post about creating a trauma sensitive classroom. Those steps can also help foster an environment that encourage social and emotional learning. This year the school where I work has incorporated a social emotional curriculum into our school day. We are using the Caring School Communities curriculum and it has been very successful thus far. Do you use any social emotional learning during your school day? If so, what do you do? Comment and let me know!

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