As an expeditionary learning school, we know that social-emotional learning is just as important for our students’ development as academic learning. That’s why we use a data-driven approach to social-emotional learning-- collecting qualitative and quantitative data about where students are at so we can authentically build upon their strengths and address growth areas.
Throughout the day, students are constantly reflecting about their progress in each of our six habits of character (integrity, cooperation, compassion, responsibility, curiosity & creativity, and perseverance), as well as the habits of character of their crewmates and teachers. We give students opportunities after each activity to share, “What habits of character did you use to play that game?”; “What habits of character did you notice someone else use?”. Each day during closing crew, students give specific appreciations for themselves and others, reflecting on their own successes in social-emotional growth.
As a school, we reviewed our Bele Survey Data. Students take Bele surveys in the Fall, Winter, and Summer, indicating their level confidence in their social-emotional learning, as well as the social-emotional climate of their crew and school community. For example, students are asked to rate their feelings on a scale of 1-3, indicating how much “I feel like I belong in my crew,” or “Everyone in my crew treats me with respect.” We map this data over time, pulling out trends both within individual crews and across our school community.
Instruction and Curriculum
We use a combination of these qualitative and quantitative methods to inform our curriculum in order to design crew lessons that meet the individual needs of our unique crews.
After reviewing my Winter Bele Survey Data, I noticed that many students indicated that “I care about others in my crew” but tended to rate “I feel like I belong in my crew” lower. Given this, as well as qualitative data from students who reflected on cooperation as a growth during Crew, I decided to write a Crew Unit plan about identity. As my friend and colleague Ms. Lauren put it, “Students can’t ask others to respect who they are until they know and can articulate who they are and what’s important to them.” So, to build a sense of belonging in my crew, I started writing lessons that address the basics-- “Who am I? What is important for others to know about me?”. I went on a bit of an Amazon shopping spree and found a wealth of texts for primary students that help students discover their own sense of identity-- from race and gender to religion and culture. (I highly recommend Who Are You: A Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee). Once students develop a foundational sense of identity, they will tackle the culminating question: “What do I need from others to feel safe, supported, and successful?”. Ultimately, I hope that knowing who they are and how to stand up for their own identity, as well as knowing others and knowing what’s important for their crewmates will increase a sense of belonging in my crew-- and teach skills for life after first grade!
By using data-informed methods of instruction for social-emotional learning, we can authentically address student needs and build upon strengths in our school community.