Define school culture with social and emotional learning routines

In recent decades, public education has focused on literacy and math learning, largely due to high-stakes tests measuring these two elements of school. But educators have long known that while reading, writing and math are important for academic success, they are far from the only qualities students need to move forward and lead productive lives.

In recent years, the pendulum of educational trends has reversed to emphasize the importance of the relationship to learning. Schools use social and emotional learning programs to help students develop interpersonal skills and learn ways to solve problems peacefully. But there’s still debate around which social and emotional skills are most important to teach — such as empathy, executive functioning, or perseverance — and some educators feel unprepared to take on a role more like that of relative.

In a series of videos called “Schools That Work”, Edutopia offers some examples of social and emotional learning routines used by successful schools. At Highlander Charter School in Rhode Island, elementary students talk about the importance of the morning meeting in their day.

“It keeps me in a good mood and focused,” said Monica, a ninth grader at the school. Each morning at the 15-minute meeting, students greet each other, have time to share, do a fast-moving activity, and review the day’s schedule. Educators say this routine is an invaluable way to help students transition from home to school; it helps build a community where students feel loved, known and ready to learn.

“I like when people share because you get to know them a little better,” said Dianelys, a CP student. Educators at this school said that dedicating this time each day creates a culture in which students respect themselves and their teacher.

Carol C. Reed