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Social Emotional Learning

We know from human history and the latest learning science that success comes from the combination of academic knowledge and the ability to work with others. We need public education to reflect this.Walter Isaacson, Aspen Institute President and CEO

The North Vancouver School District is committed to a continuum of SEL integral to student well-being and development. The continuum includes an intentional focus on creating a Sense of Belonging for students, the teaching of Pro-Social Skills, teaching Positive Mental Health awareness and strategies, and finally investing in an Integrated Approach to Mental Health with our community partners. Each area of SEL support is beneficial on it’s own but the development of strategic action across the continuum provides a comprehensive focus and best meets the needs of all students.

The identified areas of focus were determined through current research, and consultation and collaboration with district staff, parents, students, and local community agencies. This continuum was informed by CASEL, Stan Kutcher, the Standing Committee on Children and Youth Mental Health, and Kim Schonert-Reichl. We share this area of development with our community partners, and continue the work of developing a shared language across partner groups.

We believe that a focus on Social Emotional Learning Continuum is central to student development and the Educated Global Citizen. In addition, we believe that intentionally enhancing a student’s sense of belonging while teaching social emotional skills and positive mental health enables student engagement and enhanced learning.

The Continuum of Social Emotional Learning

Sense of Belonging

A positive sense of belonging nurtures self-esteem, self-worth, and ultimately equips young people with the ability to develop healthy relationships with others (Brokenleg, 2002). When we are anchored in community we develop self-esteem assuring ourselves of our own worth as individuals (Maslow, 1943). Relationships with peers and school staff based on mutual trust and respect are essential to engagement and learning.

Goal: To ensure students have connection(s) to a member of school staff.

Key Actions:

  • Provide training to support classroom teachers in ensuring each students sense of belonging at school
  • Develop strategies and structures that intentionally connect all students to each other and to school staff
  • Establish observation protocols to monitor students’ sense of belonging and connection with school
  • Identify targeted strategies for student identified as struggling with their sense of belonging/connection
  • Increase use of community building programs, such as Tribes, Restorative Justice, etc.
  • Establish collaborative problem solving processes
  • Review approaches or policies that may hinder sense of belonging

A pyramid diagram of Social Emotional Learning: From bottom to top, Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self-actualization

Measure of Success/Indicator of Progress:

  • Individual and school wide attendance data/patterns
  • Student self-reports to classroom/homeroom teachers what it is they are connected to at school
  • Connection Surveys

Social Emotional Learning

Schools help children and adults acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enhance personal development, establish satisfying interpersonal relationships, and lead to effective and ethical work and productivity. These include: 1) competencies to understand and manage emotions; 2) set and achieve positive goals; 3) feel and show caring and concern for others; 4) establish and maintain positive relationships; and 5) make responsible decisions.

Goal: Promote educator awareness and teaching of evidence based strategies to develop student Self-Awareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making.

Key Actions:

  • Highlighting for all school district staff, students, and parents, the importance of Social Emotional Learning as one of the 4 Pillars of the North Vancouver School District
  • Provide evidenced based, developmentally appropriate resources, literature, and frameworks to school based teams and classroom teachers for use with whole schools, individual classrooms, and individual students
  • Raise the profile and understanding of Social Emotional learning in our classrooms, so that all students, staff, and families are familiar with it’s 5 domains, and how these domains support development and their educational pathways.
  • Create SEL or Wellness clubs or groups at each school, for students to learn about, engage, with, promote, and offer leadership for SEL in their school sites.

Measure of Success/Indicator of Progress:

  • Schools and classroom teachers are using recommended frameworks and resources
  • School staff have had targeted professional development on one or all of the five domains of Social Emotional Learning
  • Presence of school based clubs or groups targeting SEL or Wellness
  • School have provided opportunities for parents to engage with, and learn about, Social Emotional Learning at their children’s school.

Mental Health Literacy

In order to raise confident, self-assured, and well-rounded individuals, a holistic approach to teaching both brains and bodies about how to keep brains and bodies healthy and well is essential. Mental Health Literacy is a crucial component of this holistic approach and is defined as: 1) understanding how to foster and maintain good mental health; 2) understanding mental disorders and their treatments; 3) decreasing stigma about mental illness; and 4) understanding how to seek help effectively.

Goal: All students in the North Vancouver school district will receive mental health literacy training before they leave secondary school and enter post-secondary school or pursue their career pathways.

Key Actions:

  • Incorporate Mental Health Literacy curriculum at the grade 9-10 levels under the umbrella of Personal Wellness.
  • Clarify within school sites which teaching staff/subject areas will be responsible for this curriculum delivery
  • Build a team, beyond, but including, the counselling team, of staff who will be considered “go-to” people for young people to talk about mental health beyond the context of the mental health curriculum
  • Continue to inform and engage parent community in regards to Mental Health Literacy through use of the Institute of Families for Child & Youth Mental Health Parent Trainers.

Measure of Success/Indicator of Progress:

  • Pre and Post-tests for Mental Health Curriculum each year indicate learning is taking place
  • Number of parents engaged in parent training and information sharing from the Institute of Families for Child & Youth Mental Health
  • Number of staff involved as “Go-To” supports to counselling teams at each school
  • Dialogue about mental health and mental illness is open, honest, and not stigmatized.

Integrated Mental Health

The presence of social, emotional, behavioural, or mental health concerns occur neither overnight, or in isolation. Given the complexity of youth mental health, a coordinated and integrated approach to support is essential. In partnership with community agencies in a wraparound support model, school staff and families are able to ensure a higher quality of care. Key to this support is clear and consistent communication despite the need to broaden the team to beyond school for students in need.

Goal: Ensure effective communication and collaborative action between schools and community agencies to ensure seamless levels of mental health care and support for students and their families.

Key Actions:

  • Establish a primary point of contact for mental health/interagency partnerships for the school district.
  • Establish a primary point of contact in each school for interagency communication
  • Establish a primary point of contact for individual students needing supports beyond school setting
  • Refine necessary consents for sharing of information between agencies, and ensure those consents are reviewed, signed, and filed for any student/families who are needing this level of support
  • Establish protocols and communication guidelines to ensure effective and ongoing consultation between agencies
  • Provide physical meeting space for staff of partner agencies to meet with their clients and families in the context of school .

Measure of Success/Indicator of Progress:

  • Presence of both district and school key points of contact for mental health/interagency partnerships
  • Appropriate protocols have been established
  • Young people describe feeling supported both at school and in community
  • Community partners express feeling welcome in all of our schools

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