While much of this type of learning is something good educators already intuitively know and do with students, pioneering organizations like CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning) are standardizing strategies and language to frame the larger conversation of SEL implementation. CASEL’s five core SEL competencies are Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. This is also the exact language used in the 2011 DOE guidelines. These competencies, as a progression of developing skills, are reflective of most other methodologies promoted by various SEL programs; first an individual is taught tools to bring emotions and their underlying causes into consciousness and then they utilize strategies to regulate their reactions to those emotions. The focus then shifts to tools for social awareness and compassion as the individual seeks to integrate himself into the community. The final step, that of co-creating community, engages students in fostering positive change. As librarians we know all about the journey of self-discovery and community-building. I even believe that’s why most of us are in this profession; because we know the library is a special place where this type of learning takes place daily.
But what this current educational conversation means for school libraries is that we have an opportunity to take what we already do so well and use it to demonstrate how we can become leaders in SEL educational reform by communicating our SEL competencies (many we likely already do) to our administrations and school committees. This could be especially important as budgets are shrinking and more and more library positions are ending up on the chopping block. In effect, SEL initiatives could be a lifeline for school libraries. Here are four basic ideas of how:
- The School Library as a Safe Space: Space as the Third Teacher
- Bibliotherapy: Reading to Know Thyself
- Staff Development: Be the Host with the Most
- 21st Century Skills: AASL Does it Again
Though this is barely scratching the surface of SEL possibilities in school libraries, I hope it can begin a process of reframing the way in which we and our administrations view school librarians as social and emotional learning leaders for the future.
blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2016/09/commission_formed_to_advance_schools_focus_on_social_emotional_development.html. Accessed 20 Dec. 2016.
CASEL.org. Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2016, www.casel.org/federal-policy-and
legislation/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2016.
"Conference Flyer: Ready to Learn: Meeting the Social-Emotional Needs of Today's Diverse Learners." MassSupt.org,
Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, July 2016,
20 Dec. 2016.
"Guidelines on Implementing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Curricula." doe.mass.edu, Massachusetts
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jan. 2008, www.doe.mass.edu/bullying/SELguide.pdf.
Accessed 20 Dec. 2016.
Khorsandi, Yasamand. "The Movement of Meditation Replacing Detention in Schools." Newsweek.com, Newsweek, 30