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Teacher Voice on Social Emotional Learning

On Saturday, October 12 the Kent Schools Foundation (KSF) hosted their Second Annual Auction, Starry Night. KSF’s first auction, held in September 2018, was a huge success with more than 150 people attending and raising over $50,000 to support our students. This year the event was equally well attended, and the foundation raised more than $72,000 gross.

The mission of the Kent Schools Foundation is to engage with families, educators, businesses, and the broader community to fund innovative and supportive learning opportunities for every student in the Kent School District.

Glenridge Teacher Ann Smith, and Daniel Elementary Assistant Principal Jen Hoglund, shared about the Choose Kind program at Glenridge and their vision for Social emotional learning. The “fund a need” portion of the evening, focused in on supporting and expanding Social Emotional Learning across the district raised nearly $24,000 alone for the district. Both Ann and Jen provided wonderful information, we are sharing Ann’s speech below from the evening, highlighting a teacher’s perspective on the importance of social emotional learning.

“Good evening. I am Ann Smith and I have been a teacher for 14 years in the Kent School District.  If you would indulge me, I would like you to take a moment and think of the people that you spend much of your time with. Your partner, your children, your friends, your boss, your employees, your co-workers, your parents, yourself and maybe even your barista or bartender.

Now, as you are thinking of these people, I would like you to think about whom on your list might benefit from having support in learning the skills necessary to regulate their emotions? How about advocating for themselves? Making a sincere apology or accepting an apology? That kindness is a choice? Perhaps someone you are thinking of needs support in accepting responsibility for their actions? How about practice in how to restore relationships after harm has been caused? What about strategies to calm down when they are feeling strong feelings? Would someone benefit from coaching on how to win and/or lose? Do you know someone who struggles with how to be a positive member of a community? Maybe they could use ideas for how to handle challenging people? Or work in a group? What about support in the ability to set goals and develop reasonable plans to achieve them? Perhaps they could use some practice in showing empathy or leadership skills? I would guess that there isn’t a thing on this list that someone you know, and if you are being brave maybe you, would benefit from having additional support and practice in.

What I just listed above are just some of the many skills that fall under the “Social Emotional Learning”, or SEL, umbrella. As a teacher I realized early in my career that these skills are necessary for students to function in the school setting and equally important for them in the “real world”. I also realized that there any many barriers for our students in acquiring the knowledge and practice they need to be successful. I knew, without a doubt, that it was a huge and necessary part of my job to be a bridge to help students have access to SEL. I use resources provided by the school district and my school. I take classes and I listen to podcasts. I watch videos and ask other professionals for their input and help, and help, and help. I constantly reflect on my practices and implement new ideas. And, perhaps the most impactful in my journey to become proficient at supporting my students with Social Emotional Learning was the opportunity to work with someone who is passionate, informed and immensely talented in this arena, Jen Hoglund Assistant Principal at Daniel Elementary.”

On behalf of Kent School District and the Kent Schools Foundation, thank you to Ann, Jen, the amazing students, staff, and families of Glenridge Elementary and all who attended the Starry Auction event.

You can learn more about the Kent Schools Foundation, their mission, vision, and how the funds raised will be shared with classroom enrichment grants and other special project this coming school year on their website.