Future of K-12 SEL: curriculum integration

Teacher and student planting for an SEL activity

The pandemic healthcare crisis underscored the need for comprehensive K-12 SEL programs. Public schools experienced a jump in students seeking mental health services since the start of the pandemic, according to a May 2022 study by the National Center for Education Statistics. The majority surveyed are concerned about the lack of resources despite record-breaking federal funding. 56% of schools surveyed relied on training educators with additional SEL and mental health training to combat the shortage of mental health professional staff able to handle the rise in caseloads. SEL skills are foundational to developing healthy students and future adults. One of the core SEL skills kids learn is self-advocacy, and to better support students, teachers will need to brush up on their advocacy skills.

Core SEL skills students need

  • Empathy
  • Self-awareness
  • Teamwork
  • Self-advocacy

How much SEL time do students need?

Students should participate in 30 minutes to an hour each day on SEL according to school administrators surveyed in a May 2022 EdWeek survey. Carving out this much time when schools are trying to accelerate learning recovery post-COVID school shutdowns and remote classes and getting kids on track learning new content makes dedicating this small chuck of time to SEL difficult. The answer to this dilemma is SEL curriculum integration.

SEL curriculum integration

Curriculum providers are finding new ways to incorporate SEL into courses outside the traditional language arts and social studies classes. Some curriculum developers are focused on integrating SEL into math and science courses. For example, the Next Generation Science Standards curriculum expands beyond simply looking at science as teaching facts. The curriculum aims to nurture well-rounded, scientifically literate students that know how to collaborate and communicate, two essential skills for other classes and future careers.

Teacher Voice

The pandemic did not create environments conducive to educator success. Pandemic teaching tested educators’ resiliency and flexibility, and fresh new challenges await this fall. Amid growing teacher shortages and new programs to aid learning recovery, educators need to be open with leadership about their struggles to get the support they and their students need. And with polarized issues increasingly affecting what teachers can teach and raising more uncertainty and stress, getting involved in policy formulation that impacts curriculum may become the next essential action teachers need to take. Teachers can read this article for resources to build their advocacy for the curriculum they support.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.




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