#SEL Day Success, New Parent Toolkit and Family-School Partnerships on Benchmark Education’s Blog

Our Superpower Success!

The fourth annual International Social and Emotional Learning Day was a big success and you were apart of it! Thank you to all those Confident Parents – lead by our Confident Parents Leadership Team! – who shared their own and their children’s SEL superpowers! Here are some other outstanding highlights of that special day. There were:

  • Over 10 million views from over 5,000 mentions and 40,000 interactions with #SELday across social media
  • #SELday trended on Twitter for several hours
  • Nine #SELday state proclamations
  • A letter recognizing #SELday from President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden
  • A bipartisan resolution for National SEL Week introduced in the U.S. Senate
  • Over #SELday 4,100 participants representing 88 countries and all 50 U.S. states
  • More than 2,500 schools, districts, and youth-serving organizations represented
  • Participants committed to over 11,000 actions to showcase, promote, advocate, and support #SELday

Confident Parents’ Jennifer and Jason Miller along with teen son attended a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill that day where plans for the bipartisan resolution for National SEL Week were announced. But more importantly, we heard from a high school principal and the father of a student who entered high school (in a low income neighborhood in D.C.) three reading levels behind and because of the caring relationships with teachers and their investment in his and other students’ social and emotional supports graduated valedictorian of his class.

The “Parenting with SEL 101; Stories from South Carolina and Ohio” in the virtual summit attracted 461 participants and a rich discussion with a sharing of tools and resources in follow up. Miss it and want to catch? Check out the recordings of the day-long virtual summit and don’t miss Goldie Hawn discussing SEL through her program MindUp.

A New Parent Advocacy Toolkit

Hearing misinformation about SEL? Find accurate, useable information here!

This downloadable toolkit is a quick guide for parents and caregivers to share accurate information in support of social and emotional learning in our children’s schools and communities. Developed in 2023 by the Leading with SEL Coalition.
Use and share the toolkit to:
  • Ground conversations in facts and data
  • Dispel misinformation, and
  • Advocate for high-quality social, emotional, and academic learning

And On Family-School Partnerships…

“Exchanging Heart Language; Moving Educators and Parents from Acquaintances to Partners” Today on Benchmark Education’s Blog

Here’s how it begins…

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart.”  — Nelson Mandela, Lead Liberator of South Africa

“If culture was a house, then language was the key to the front door to all the rooms inside.”  — Khaled Housseini, Afghan American Author

The seismic changes in schools and in families ushered in over the past few years have shone a bright light on the role of parents and caregivers as essential teachers and partners in education. Teachers were dependent upon parents to get their students online and in a conducive learning environment during remote learning. As students returned to their buildings in person, parents and caregivers remained deeply invested in their success. Many students had experienced trauma as a way of life before the pandemic, but now all students added layers of trauma from the consequences of a global pandemic, creating a unique uneasiness as parents and caregivers sent their children back to school.

You could say these are hard times or you could say these are heart times — times that unmistakably, undeniably involve our hearts in showing up, in accepting and managing challenging emotions, and in growing and sustaining our nourishing relationships.

Schools are recognizing the vital role that social and emotional learning plays. As children feel safe and learn more about how to deal with their big feelings while creating healthy relationships, they can focus on and learn directly through those caring relationships. And we access one another through language. It’s our front door — our passageway for connection with students and with the families who love them. And if we don’t find the language that connects and resonates, we’ll lose our opportunities to build authentic partnerships that ultimately determine whether or not our child can learn in school. It’s just that important.

Schools are busy engaging staff in professional development. They’re asking important questions about how we can support our students who are bringing so many emotions and, for some, externalizing behaviors with them to school. And some are boosting, updating, or taking on new change initiatives like social and emotional learning to transform their buildings. What we know to be true from school change research is that how we speak with one another — and who we include in that talk — is the key to real change.

Indeed, researchers Hall and Hord found that they could identify whether or not a positive school change would last over time if they could document or observe the one-legged interview.1 This simply meant that a teacher passing another teacher in the hallway would mention the intended change — what they were learning about, how they were trying out new strategies — in passing in the amount of time it took to walk from one leg to the next, literally seconds. If, claimed the researchers, the change was a part of their everyday quick conversations, then they were wrestling with it in their minds and hearts. They’d internalized the intention and vision and were going to work collaboratively to bring it to life.

But that evidence comes from teachers who are able to run into each other in the hallway every single day. They can exchange encouraging words. But what about parents and caregivers who are essential members of the learning team — students, parents/caregivers, and teachers — who do not have that daily in-person contact? In fact, most schools have been shut down to parents and caregivers. Most are not allowing them in the building or limiting their building access as part of COVID policy. How do we involve families in the changes we are trying to bring about? It begins with language.


2 Comments on “#SEL Day Success, New Parent Toolkit and Family-School Partnerships on Benchmark Education’s Blog”

  1. Very inspiring article. As a former teacher, I hope for more positive changes in schools and at home.

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