Monthly Archives

March 2022

BASE Education’s How We Do It Webinar Introduction

BASE’s How We Do It webinar series was designed to educate school districts on social emotional learning and how the lives of their students have changed through the use of BASE’s services. 

In each How We Do It webinar, we will speak with a BASE partner about their educational journey, where their interest in social emotional learning began and why they decided to partner with BASE for this journey. 

In the first webinar, we speak with Sue Rowe, the Director of Positive School Climate in Toledo, Ohio. Before becoming a Director of Positive School Climate, Sue was a long-time educator, working with special education students. 

The Beginning of Sue’s Experience With SEL 

According to Sue, Toledo’s journey toward using social emotional learning in its schools began pre-pandemic. At least 10 years ago, a women’s initiative group from United Way visited a school that Sue taught in and presented a proposal about exploring social emotional learning. Though Sue was not in attendance for that meeting, she agreed to learn more about it based on her colleagues’ interest.   

Sue and her colleagues searched through CASEL’s curriculum and felt drawn to the responsive classroom program as it spoke to them as educators. They wanted more than a lesson on respect, rather strategies and practices that could act as the foundation for their teachings. Taking part in training within the school, the trainings moved into an additional five schools, ultimately leading Sue and a former colleague of hers to become certified responsive classroom trainers

How BASE Is Being Used 

Sue was tasked with the responsibility of finding a social emotional learning based curriculum that could be implemented specifically for high schoolers who were a part of their schools in-school suspension (ISS) classrooms. Initially students in these classrooms would use this time to complete classwork, but the school’s educators wanted more.

Sue researched social emotional learning and found BASE. Stating that BASE felt like “a good match” that could be of great assistance in a high school setting, the curriculum allowed for instruction for both whole and small groups as well as individual students. 

How Do Toledo Educators Use BASE As A Whole Group Instruction Tool 

Currently being used on a smaller scale with ISS educators, many of the teachers have found that students are there due to disorderly behavior or anger. With that in mind, instead of doing individual work, each lesson is projected on a large screen and is used as an opportunity to have group conversations about the topics that are presented.

According to Sue, group work with social emotional learning has led itself to open and honest conversations among students. “Social emotional learning is not just a student thing,” says Sue. “We’ve all had moments of anger, we’ve all had moments where we’ve needed to have a conversation and discussion.” Starting these conversations at the school age can help students form healthy relationships with their emotions and to teach them how to better treat both themselves and others.

Greatest Impact Due to BASE

For Sue, BASE’s impact is twofold. Not only has social emotional learning greatly impacted students, it has also empowered educators. All of this has led to a positive work and school environment. “The biggest impact is just in the climate in general in our buildings,” says Sue. She concluded by saying, “I think that BASE has provided our teachers with the tools they need in order to start building those connections in a more genuine way.” 

If you are interested in learning more about BASE, social emotional learning and our How We Do It webinar, contact us today. 

4 Core SEL Practices For Visionary District Leaders

Response through the eyes of esteemed colleague Sheldon Berman. 

“A caring school community gives our students a vision of the way the world could be.” – Dr. Sheldon Berman, AASA Lead Superintendent for Social-Emotional Learning

Dr. Berman has been a trailblazer for effective SEL solutions and travels the country speaking on the fundamental necessity of a top-down approach to a positive district culture.

Social emotional learning has found its way into nearly every school district and has been met with either acceptance or controversial hesitation. 

In a presentation, Sheldon explains that there’s no tradeoff between social emotional learning and academic learning – a misconception among educators. Dedicating time to SEL in schools won’t have a negative impact on academic learning. In reality, a school district cannot be successful without both individual and academic learning. Not only is SEL beneficial for student’s wellness and academic success, it creates a strong leadership culture. 

Dr. Sheldon identified four Core SEL Practices for effective implementation.

  1.                 Teach Empathy and Social Skills

Part of the core elements of empathy and social skills include the ability to sense another’s experience and provide an empathic response, as well as developing the social skills needed to lead a productive life.

  1.                 Community Building

By instilling a sense of community in your students they will feel less isolated and better resourced. Through community building, a district-wide culture will develop. 

  1.                 Curriculum Integration

Whether sneaking SEL concepts into core content or doing concentrated self work through direct SEL learning, students can build and foster resiliency as well as adapt life and academic skills. 

  1.                 Service Learning

Giving back to the community fosters a sense of accomplishment. This is done when a students’ sense of self is strong enough to know they have something to offer others. When students are holistically prepared for life, their focus shifts to humanitarian gestures and charitable connections. 

The challenge arises with the question of “how?”

Buy-in, support and strong leadership are the cornerstones for success and begin with you. 

When you embody the culture you want to see in your district, the wheels of example are then put in motion. Through authenticity, passion and intention, your district can exemplify your vision.

As with anything new, SEL and culture-setting will likely be met with resistance and challenges. Sheldon specifically addresses challenges seen during his tenure.   

A few of these challenges include: confusion around when or how to align SEL with core instruction, teacher time constraints and misaligned core beliefs around culture, diversity, equity and inclusion. District members may also experience confusion about the culture of discipline, i.e. punitive vs. restorative.

Just as you teach your students to embrace their resilience and push through, your leadership relies upon you to also do the same. Effective implementations and outcomes are rarely easy and trailblazing is where you come in. According to Dr. Sheldon, here’s how to help the transition:

By creating safe and culturally responsive classrooms, students will engage and grow academically and teachers will grow through their student connections. From this safe space, students can understand the vision of their district leaders. When they know they matter, oftentimes, the future becomes a reality. 

Serving your students will require that your teams are offered high-quality, relevant professional development that supports your vision. When your teams see your investment in your vision and feel supported as a result of their collaboration, their buy-in will increase. 

Many know that qualified SEL programs can provide windows to futures. It can be a culture-builder for students, the community and your educators. When done well, and not as a box-checker solution, SEL can be revolutionary. It’s not impossible for students to be both academically sound and life-prepared. Through your leadership, you can actualize a district of wellness, cohesion and hope for the future. 

To hear how our partners have been visionary through SEL and their use of BASE, feel free to join us for a future How We Do It webinar