Many teachers feel that the standards and the tests associated with them are taking so much time that there is no time for social and emotional learning. This is upsetting, especially given the fact that numerous studies have identified social skills among the most important factors in a child’s academic success. Only with a safe and trusting environment can a child do his or her best learning. If we know this to be true, then where are the social and emotional skills listed in the common core state standards? Are these fundamental skills really missing from the standards?
The fact is, that although they may not be explicitly named, these skills are in fact very present in the standards. If you look closely at the standards you will find that many of the social and emotional skills such as possessing perseverance, optimism and being able to cooperate are imbedded in both math and language arts standards. Being simply imbedded and not explicitly taught however, has me concerned. It leads me to wonder whether or not the creators of the common core made some assumptions about what kids understand and what they are capable of in regards to social skills.
Teaching kids explicitly how to persevere, possess a positive growth mindset, focus attention, regulate emotions and more are all essential in today’s classroom, now more than ever. It is important not to assume that students will acquire these skills by merely mentioning them and it is not enough to simply model and define these skills. Kids need to practice these skills on a regular basis. Without dedicating time and effort in helping to instill these skills, we are setting kinds up for failure especially when we are asking them to perform at such high levels and with such rigorous standards. Social and emotional skills are fundamental in helping kids achieve success.
The standards alone will not facilitate the growth we need in education. No regulated accountability such as CCSS can take the place of a teacher’s passion and enthusiasm for what they are teaching. Passion, attitude and enthusiasm is what separates the good teachers from the great teachers and it’s these great teachers who think beyond the standards. They don’t want their students to simply be able to pass the test, they want their students to love learning, be confident and reach their highest potential in the classroom and beyond. The way I see it, the only way to make this happen is to support and encourage kids to develop their skills socially and emotionally as well as academically.