Linking Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Outcomes

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Much research exists that shows the correlation between social-emotional learning and improved student academic outcomes in schools. One of our long-term strategies is to develop and grow a comprehensive social-emotional learning plan that will impact academic performance and positive school climate. To that end, over twenty-five teachers from Spaulding and McAlister schools participated in a four-day Responsive Classroom training last June. The Responsive Classroom approach to teaching emphasizes academic, social, and emotional growth in a strong school community. The philosophy is grounded in the what and how of student learning, with the belief that academic success is inextricably tied to building social-emotional competencies. This approach to teaching is being combined with the current PBIS program and other social-emotional initiatives that support students.

Responsive classroom strategies include respectful, specific, and direct teacher language that focuses on showing faith in children’s abilities and potential. The training workshops provided teachers with ways to involve students in interactive modeling, creating hopes and dreams for the year, and classroom rules creation. Important aspects of this approach include starting each day with a morning meeting, using energizers throughout the day, quiet time, and a closing circle to help build a classroom community where everyone is invested in learning and caring about each other. This training continues at Spaulding as teachers learn new energizers (songs, chants, and games) at monthly faculty meetings facilitated by Wyn Jespersen, the school’s music teacher. Many teachers also participate in Responsive Classroom Chat time. This monthly group is facilitated by first grade teacher, Heather Goldstein, and Wyn Jespersen as a means for teachers to support each other, share ideas, collaborate and problem solve, as well as celebrate successes within the classrooms. To learn more about Responsive Classroom, visit

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