Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) was implemented at Woodside School in 2012. Our teachers across the grades span devote significant time focusing on social and emotional development. SEL is a wonderful way for staff and students to connect, build empathy, learn about ourselves, and contribute to each other. Families help SEL thrive by bringing the language and tools home. 

Many of our staff have participated in the Institute for SEL, an intensive summer workshop, that has allowed us to create an in-house committee of expert teachers. This committee offers parent education events and provides teacher support and professional development opportunities throughout the school year.  

SEL is taught both by direct instruction and by taking advantage of natural opportunities and traditions throughout the school year. We embrace an embedded approach to SEL instruction so that students practice SEL skills on an ongoing basis and in natural opportunities.  

For specific questions about the program or philosophy, please contact Upper School Principal Jenn Pedersen, Lower School Principal Patrick Hurley.

To view a ten-minute video summarizing SEL competencies, best practices and SEL benefits, click HERE

SEL helps us to reinforce key elements of our school’s mission statement:

Through active collaboration with teachers, parents and the vibrant local community, Woodside School provides a well-rounded preschool through 8th grade education that prepares its students to be curious, enthusiastic and self-motivated learners as a foundation for future academic and life success.

We encourage reading this great SEL article:
How to Strengthen Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

Graphic used for SEL handout in PTA meeting

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SEL, or Social Emotional Learning, is woven throughout the curriculum and hence the fabric of our community’s culture at Woodside as early as preschool. As our students move through the elementary and middle school grades, the program remains an important focus in the classroom. We believe it's one of the reasons our students not only thrive but also enjoy their time at school.

Maurice Elias, a Psychology Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the university's Social-Emotional Learning Lab, describes SEL as the process through which we learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships and avoid negative behaviors.

Most schools refer to this definition and while most parents would gladly accept their children developing all of those skills, there are even more benefits to SEL instruction in schools including increased academic performance, fewer behavioral problems, less emotional distress, and enhanced prospects for college attendance, employment, civic participation and life-long health.

You can see why the teachers at Woodside embrace SEL throughout our campus notwithstanding the fact that teachers with SEL skills are more likely to display higher job satisfaction as well. Many of our teachers were trained at Nueva’s SEL institute.

Here are some of the many ways that SEL is woven into the curriculum throughout our school:

  • At Woodside, SEL teaches the skills students need to “know yourself”, “choose yourself”, and “give yourself”. These skills include recognizing and managing our emotions, developing caring and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively and ethically. These skills allow children to calm themselves when angry, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices. At the monthly Wednesday line-up, students in the lower grades are presented with Paw of Praise certificates recognizing how they have positively implemented SEL practices.
  • Teachers are encouraged to involve the children in creating classroom agreements and have regular “check-in’s” for identifying emotions, problem solving and conflict resolution.
  • Teachers discuss “expected and unexpected” behaviors and encourage children to use their social toolboxes to figure out how to solve problems.
  • Teachers often choose literature with social and emotional themes that encourage classroom discussions and incorporate SEL themes into their on-going lessons.
  • Mindfulness, breathing techniques, and deescalating strategies are reviewed with children regularly.
  • Middle schoolers’ Open Session focuses on SEL skills such as conflict management with peers, family, and teachers as well as appreciating differences, managing stress with prep for high school, and guided meditation.
  • Buddy benches (a place for children to sit when they need a friend) on campus encourage inclusion and open expression of emotions.
We all want our children to do their best academically in school. When emotions are brought to the forefront in classrooms, children are more at ease and better able to focus and attend to their studies. Learning how to manage emotions and solve problems are skills we all need throughout life. SEL at Woodside creates better students and better human beings today and tomorrow.

Additional Resources: