Soft skills, the focus of SEL, have as big an impact on a student’s eventual success as hard skills
Adaptation is one of humanity’s most important traits and has allowed us to adjust to new environments or changes in our current environment. While this is a slow evolutionary process, it doesn’t mean that we don’t see it every day. In the context of the physical or digital classroom, resilience is a critical quality that educators today endeavour to teach their students through a concept called social-emotional learning.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is defined as “the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills vital for school, work, and life success.” By developing these positive traits, students are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially. Individually, children thrive and, schools improve the quality of their product students. On a macro level, workplaces benefit, and society strengthens as a whole.
Starting off as a separate concept outside of instruction, SEL has now become woven into the fabric of student education. This mode of instruction encourages collaboration, flexibility, creativity, and initiative from early childhood. While previously, teachers focused on improving hard skills such as STEM proficiency, there is a growing movement towards using SEL to focus on the development of soft skills, which have as big an impact on a student’s success later in life. For example, knowing how to manage workloads and ask peers for assistance when they need it is something students can learn through social-emotional learning. It's one example of how clear communication, which is another component of SEL, can prepare them for the future.
As digital tools are increasingly integrated into the way lessons are developed and delivered, it’s important to understand the role of technology in enforcing SEL among students. Incorporating technology in SEL helps students work to their strengths and enjoy a more personalized experience in the classroom. Beyond instruction, digital tools can also be leveraged with the assessment of social-emotional learning. Teachers can use various tools to better understand how students are doing with SEL skill development and their overall mindsets.
At Compugen, we regularly host training sessions for teachers from various school boards across Quebec, and SEL training is fast becoming a key focal area in our webinars. We work extensively with Apple in helping educators integrate SEL into their lesson plans.
Technology gives students the opportunity to work on their strengths and enjoy a more personalized classroom experience. Basically, they can use whatever tools they feel comfortable with to express themselves. This ensures that they feel safe and have a personal connection with what they are learning. For example, when a teacher gives an assignment, students are given the freedom to create work based on what they feel comfortable using. They can choose to create a video, a presentation, a poster, a recording, or a song to demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter.
Additionally, if educators use tools like Apple’s Classroom and Schoolwork as tracking platforms, they could gain greater access to student performance data, and this can be an excellent tool for giving students feedback.
As for individual learning, students can use the background sounds feature such as ocean and rain, to mask environmental noise and to help minimize distractions so you they focus or rest. The Notes app can be used to sketch or jot down important insights from their lessons – this activity allows students to absorb their study material more thoroughly than simply listening or reading.