Principal - May/June 2021 - 21

Case for Context
It is up to adults to provide the supports and resources that
all students need-from educators who challenge and believe
in their students, to whole-child supports that allow students
to thrive, to a school climate and culture in which students feel
they belong. Unless leaders address existing harmful policies
and practices, and unless adults in schools truly view all students as having the potential to thrive, a sole focus on teaching social-emotional competencies will become yet another
approach that marginalizes students and families of color.
By shifting the focus to address the context in which students
learn, efforts to support social-emotional well-being can be used
as a lever for equity and for evidence-based approaches that
support learning and development for all students.

CHANGING ADULT MINDSETS
Adult biases, beliefs, and skills influence their interactions
with students in schools and classrooms, and in turn, affect
students' mindsets, beliefs, and skills. Educators' biases and
beliefs about students, beliefs in their own abilities to make
a difference, and skills (e.g., classroom management and culturally sustaining pedagogy) influence instructional decisions
such as what they choose to teach in the classroom, how
they teach it, and how they interact with students.
Focus group participants told EdTrust that all of these
experiences matter for social, emotional, and academic development. In addition to teachers and administrators, other
adults-bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitorial staff, security
staff, office staff, and others-matter, as well. But all too often,
even well-intentioned adults in schools-like well-intentioned
adults outside of schools-have biases and beliefs that can
harm students' development and overall achievement.
To support SEL, educators and school leaders must make the
following shifts:
* From a deficit-based mindset to a strength-based mindset;
* From one-size-fits-all to recognizing cultural and contextual
influences; and
* From allowing bias to impact students to targeted and continuous efforts to reduce bias.
Biased or deficit-based mindsets are often reinforced when
educators' approaches focus only on teaching social-emotional
skills to students without attention to learning environments and
other contextual factors. Focus on culture to get the results SEL
has long promised.
Adapted from EdTrust's 2020 report, " Social, Emotional, and
Academic Development Through an Equity Lens "
(bit.ly/2OO4AF7).


http://www.bit.ly/2OO4AF7

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