Social Emotional Learning

At NPES, we believe that when children feel safe and recognized in the classroom, they can excel academically. Social emotional learning is focused on the process of acquiring the skills to recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively. Our framework for social emotional learning is based on the five competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills.

Preschool-5th grade – the Responsive Classroom®

For younger children, the Responsive Classroom approach consists of teaching strategies for bringing academic and social emotional learning together in a safe, joyful, and engaging environment that is responsive to their strengths and needs. The guiding principles that define Responsive Classroom include:

  • The social and emotional curriculum is as important as academics.
  • How children learn is as important as what they learn.
  • Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
  • To be successful academically and socially, children need to learn a set of social and emotional skills that include cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
  • Knowing the children we teach—individually, culturally, and developmentally—is as important as knowing the content we teach.
  • Knowing the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children.
  • How we, the adults at school, work together is as important as our individual competence.

In our classrooms, you’ll see students collaborating around academic choice, class meetings that encourage connections, teachers being positive and respectful, rules developed as a community, logical consequences, students reflecting on their learning, and teachers modeling expectations and setting clear paths to success.

6th-8th grade – advisory program & positive discipline®

In middle school, while we continue to build on the CASEL competencies and the Responsive Classroom techniques, social emotional learning is adapted to the needs of teens. In 6th grade, students transition into the Advisory program where they are paired with one primary teacher in a small multi-age group of about eight students. The group meets twice a week and advisors also have a “check out” with each student at the end of each day. Advisors communicate regularly with each student’s teachers and parents to ensure the child is on track academically and social-emotionally.

In Advisory, our students build community, encourage one another, and solve problems within a democratic framework as they:

  • Discuss “hot topics”
  • Work on study and organizational skills
  • Take part in team- and trust-building activities
  • Meet one-on-one with the advisor to set individual goals
  • Work with Lil’ Buddies from the lower school
  • Participate in a service learning project
  • Learn conflict resolution and peer mediation

Our Advisory model is rooted in Positive Discipline and based on the premise that people in community are looking for belonging and significance, and “misbehavior” can occur when those are lacking. Rather than simply attempting to change the behavior, we seek to understand the source of the problem and help students make the connection.

The model builds the skills of problem solving by asking students to explicitly learn and practice tools of self-regulation, communication, and mutual respect, and to focus on solutions instead of blame. Students also learn about adolescent brain science to gain a deeper understanding of their own development.

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