Message From Dean of Instruction
Lynda Mc Innes, Dean of Instruction

Every summer, the Levine teachers immerse themselves in a book study on a subject that is deemed important, based on current trends in education, or seen as a need within our school. This past summer we read All Learning is Social and Emotional by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Dominique Smith.

Social and emotional learning is the process through which children understand and learn to manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals and feel and show empathy for others. Children are able to establish and maintain positive relationships, and they work toward making responsible decisions.

In the past, social and emotional learning (SEL) has been taught through compartmentalized programs separate from academics. The truth is that all learning is social and emotional. What teachers say, the values we express, the materials and activities we choose, and the skills we prioritize all influence how students think, see themselves, and interact with content and with others.

Because we teach students rather than standards, and because we want all our students to get what they need to thrive, we are excited to use a comprehensive, five-part model of SEL that's easy to integrate into everyday content instruction, no matter what subject or grade level we teach. Reading this book has given us many of the skills needed to do this.

By integrating SEL into all our lessons every day we will: 

  • Build students' sense of identity and confidence in their ability to learn, overcome challenges, and influence the world around them.
  • Help students identify, describe, and regulate their emotional responses.
  • Promote the cognitive regulation skills critical to decision making and problem solving.
  • Foster students' social skills, including teamwork and sharing, and their ability to establish and repair relationships.
  • Equip students to becoming informed and involved citizens.

Teachers have shared their takeaways from the reading. They have reflected on how they will use what they have learned in their own classrooms.

"Henceforth, when I refer to Hunger Games and Outsiders, I will use the terminology of 'ethical responsibility' when referring to the actions of each protagonist; additionally, I had forgotten about referring to Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development with both novels." 

-Joanie Geffen, 7th/8th Grade Language Arts

"Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions -- I just love how you can dial into what may cause or trigger that particular emotion.  The wheel is a great graphic of how to check out a student's behavior and try to ask the right questions in order to reduce the stimuli." 

-Heidi Bacon, 5th/6th Grade Science

 "The types of feedback were very helpful. I often use corrective feedback and I need to work on feedback about processing the task and self-regulation to boost students' sense of agency." 

-Pam Karpel, 3rd Grade Teacher

"The practice of integrating and/or making SEL a part of the curriculum, does not take away from academics. If we teach children how to self-regulate their emotions, manage their social skills, etc., they will not only be in a better place to learn what we teach them, but more so, they will also walk away with the ability to learn on their own." 

-Maureen Reister, K8 Librarian 

"My biggest takeaway is that SEL needs to be integrated into the curriculum. We have a great SEL program in kindergarten. We directly teach it 3 or 4 times a week for 10 minutes. This is great, but we also need to make sure and integrate it into all academic areas." 

-Colette Lipszyc, Kindergarten Teacher 

Our children's social and emotional development is too important to be an add-on or an afterthought, too important to be left to chance. We are excited and committed to using an integrated SEL approach to help your students build essential skills that will serve them in the classroom and throughout their lives.