Shaw Heights Middle School's YESS Program spent the month of October learning about Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills like identity, values, self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. In this blog, we will highlight the happenings in the YESS Classroom at Shaw Heights Middle School, and focus on SEL skills such as self-awareness, identity, and values, and how these play a crucial role in students' academic success and overall well-being.
Check out some of the activities YESS students at Shaw Heights Middle School participated in to strengthen these SEL skills:
Activity 1: "I am awesome because..."
"I am awesome because...": Shaw Heights Middle School YESS student listed reasons they are awesome. This might sound simple, but the activity is quite powerful! Self-reflection and acknowledgement of positive personal characteristics are helpful in building self-awareness and confidence, developing an appreciation for special qualities and talents, and serve as a practice in positive affirmations. Many YESS students at Shaw Heights Middle School wrote about their positive qualities that have impacts on others, which helps acknowledge how valued they are to the people around them.
Here are a few of the reasons YESS students at Shaw Heights Middle School are awesome:
Try it out: What are 5 reasons that you are awesome?
Activity 2: "I do my best work when..."
"I do my best work when...": Shaw Heights Middle School YESS students practiced self-reflection by writing about the way they need to feel and environments in which they do their best school work. Research shows that students often do better work in school and are more successful when they are happy because positive moods help increase engagement, boost critical thinking skills, and build a positive learning environment.
Here are a few of the ways that students at Shaw Heights Middle School said they need to feel in order to do their best work:
Students often do better work when they feel good and happy due to several psychological and physiological reasons:
- Increased Engagement: Positive emotions can increase a student's engagement with the material. When students are happy, they are more likely to be curious, interested, and motivated to learn.
- Enhanced Memory: Happiness has been linked to better memory retention. Positive mood can enhance the ability to recall information because the brain associates the content with positive feelings.
- Greater Creativity: A positive mood broadens the amount of possible thoughts and actions that come to mind. This can lead to more creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
- Improved Health: Happiness can lead to better physical health, which in turn affects cognitive functions. Healthy students are more likely to attend school regularly and have the energy to participate and focus on their work.
- Stress Reduction: Happiness often correlates with lower levels of stress and anxiety. Since stress can impair cognitive function and concentration, a reduction in stress can lead to better academic performance.
- Better Social Interactions: Happy students tend to have better social interactions and relationships with peers and teachers. This can lead to a more supportive learning environment and opportunities for collaborative learning.
- Resilience: Positive emotions can help students build resilience to bounce back from setbacks more quickly. This resilience can help them persist in the face of challenges.
- Intrinsic Motivation: When students are happy, they are more likely to be intrinsically motivated—meaning they are driven by internal rewards like enjoyment of the task or a sense of personal achievement, which can lead to higher quality work.
- Positive Learning Environment: A positive and happy atmosphere in the classroom can create a conducive learning environment. It can encourage a love for learning and the desire to excel and explore new ideas.
- Growth Mindset: Happiness and a positive mindset can encourage a growth mindset, where students believe that their abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence.
Try it out: How do you need to feel in order to do your best work?
Activity 3: Top Values
Top Values: Shaw Heights Middle School YESS students wrote about their top values in the personal lives and considered values in larger spheres, such as at the societal level. Personal values are the core beliefs and principles that shape our daily lives. They encompass how we think, how we act, and what we ultimately care about. Personal values help us determine what is essential and decide based on those priorities. Personal values include kindness, honesty, respect, integrity, and fairness.
Here are a few of the top personal values of YESS students at Shaw Heights Middle School:
Try it out: What are your top 5 values in your personal life?
How do building these SEL skills improve student outcomes?
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills such as self-awareness, identity, and values play a crucial role in students' academic success and overall well-being. Here's how these specific SEL skills can contribute to better performance in school:
- Emotional Regulation: Students with high self-awareness can recognize and regulate their emotions, which can lead to improved concentration and focus in the classroom.
- Understanding Strengths and Weaknesses: Self-aware students are more likely to know where they excel and where they may need additional help, allowing them to seek appropriate resources and support.
- Self-Confidence: Knowing one's abilities can boost confidence, leading to greater participation and willingness to take on challenges.
- Sense of Belonging: A strong sense of identity can help students feel more connected to their school community, increasing engagement and motivation.
- Resilience: A well-developed identity can contribute to resilience, enabling students to maintain persistence even when faced with academic challenges.
- Goal Orientation: Students who have a clear sense of who they are often have a better understanding of their goals and aspirations, which can guide their academic and extracurricular pursuits.
- Decision Making: Values guide students in making decisions that align with their goals and the expectations of their educational environment, leading to more responsible and ethical behaviors.
- Motivation: When students' activities are aligned with their personal values, they are more intrinsically motivated, which is a strong predictor of academic success.
- Social Skills: Values such as respect, fairness, and cooperation are fundamental to positive social interactions and can lead to better relationships with peers and teachers.
By integrating SEL into the curriculum, in-school programs like YESS help students develop these essential skills. This not only prepares them for academic success but also for the challenges and opportunities they will face outside of school. SEL skills contribute to the development of the whole child and are increasingly seen as vital for success in the 21st century.
Celebrating Our Shaw Heights Program Manager
YESS Institute's Social Emotional Learning Programs are made possible by our talented Program Managers. We are grateful to the Shaw Heights Middle School Program Manager, Seantay D. Patterson!
Thank you, Seantay!
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