K-12 Education

National Commission March Newsletter

March 22, 2017  • National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

The Social, Emotional, & Academic development and “Soft Skills” Connection

Supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development “is both the compass and the guide” to success in K-12 education and the workforce, Deborah Moroney of the American Institutes for Research emphasized during a recent meeting of the National Commission. In other words, social, emotional, and academic development is critical for navigating through school and the workforce, and it helps with key decision making along the way.

The Commissioners also heard from Tim Kautz of Mathematica Policy Research, who presented economic research finding that social and emotional development matters just as much in employment as traditional measures of achievement in math and reading. Eric Spiegel, the former president and CEO of Siemens North America, shared his realization that “soft skills” like listening, leading teams, and thriving in multicultural environments are increasingly important in the workforce and may be harder to influence in employees than technical skills if the right foundation has not been established.

In a blog post that captures his takeaways from the discussion, Commissioner Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, notes, “What’s heartening to me is that, across disciplines and sectors, there’s emerging consensus that there’s a “thing” called social and emotional skills that have a sustained, positive effect on learning and professional success.” For more, view the presentations.

Communicating About Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

As the Commission has listened to and learned from multiple individuals and groups dedicated to social, emotional, and academic development, a common challenge has been repeatedly raised—how to communicate the urgency and importance of supporting the whole student in a way that resonates with multiple audiences. The Commission is partnering with communications experts to help tackle this challenge by developing high-level messaging that will make a compelling case for supporting students’ comprehensive development. This messaging will transcend terminology; have broad appeal; and can be used by our partners, educators, community-based organizations, and others to make the case for social, emotional, and academic development.

The Commission is also working to paint a picture of social, emotional, and academic development at the classroom, school, and district levels. As part of this effort, members of our Councils of Distinguished Educators and Scientists are charged with conceptualizing what it looks like when social, emotional, and academic development is fully integrated into K-12 education and what it means for the student experience. The Commission will produce a series of case studies that illuminate particular aspects of social, emotional, and academic development and provide real-world examples.National Commission Spotlight: Joyce Wong Kup
This month, meet Joyce Wong Kup, a member of the National Commission’s Parent Advisory Panel. Joyce reflects on how all students, including her own two children­—a 9-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter—can benefit from social, emotional, and academic development.

What advantages do you think students have when their schools support their social, emotional, and academic growth?
I think, in the short term, all children, including my two, can and do become happier kids and more successful learners, when they have social, emotional, and academic support at school. In the long term, integrating social, emotional, and academic development into the regular K-12 curriculum would much better prepare our high school graduates to cope with the more intense academic and social challenges in higher education and beyond.

What are your hopes for the work of the Commission and Parent Advisory Panel?
I hope the work of the Commission and Parent Advisory Panel will encourage others to critically re-examine our priorities in education and recognize that schools need to focus beyond objective academics. We need to zoom in more on the whole child and the individual child. I hope the Parent Advisory Panel can help start other parents and teachers thinking and talking about the importance of social, emotional, and academic development, and share experiences and lessons learned from social, emotional, and academic development practices they see at their children’s schools.

Twitter bio: Who is the real Joyce Wong Kup? Tell us in 140 characters or less.
They say “the days go slow, but the years speed by” – cherishing and grateful for every moment…

Visit our website to read more of our Q&A with Joyce.

Voices of Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: News From Partners and Friends

  • CASEL has documented major lessons learned from its multiyear effort to help eight urban school districts embed social and emotional learning into all of their work. The report features examples of district work, key impact data on implementation, and previews how the nonprofit intends to scale this work nationally.
  • Ready by 21, the Forum for Youth Investment’s initiative aiming to help all children be ready for college, work, and life, is holding its annual meeting on March 29-31 in Austin, Texas. Topics to be discussed include defining and ensuring readiness, promoting equity, improving program quality, and supporting social and emotional learning skills.
  • ASCD members in Texas, in partnership with Representative Donna Howard, spearheaded an effort to introduce House Resolution 521, which designates April 2017 as Whole Child Month in Texas. The Texas House of Representatives passed the resolution, which represents a step forward in encouraging Texas parents and communities to support a whole child approach to education.
  • Registration is now open for the National School Climate Center’s Summer Institute for School Climate and SEL Improvement. The event, which will take place June 22-23 in New York City, is an opportunity for educators to understand best practices that support prosocial education, improve school climate, and prevent bullying. Participants will also learn strategies for developing school improvement action plans.

Social, Emotional, and Academic Development In the News

  • Commissioner Hugh Price recently spoke with the Yale Alumni Association to discuss his involvement with the National Commission. In the interview, he talks about his background in education, his personal connection to the Commission’s work, and what makes the Commission unique.
  • Emotional life and learning is the focus of this month’s issue of Kappan, the magazine published by the professional educator association Phi Delta Kappa. Articles cover everything from managing stress for at-risk students to the science and teaching of emotional intelligence, including an interview with Dr. Marc Brackett, a member of the Commission’s Council of Distinguished Scientists.
  • Video games can be good for you? Another member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists, Maurice Elias, interviewed Jessica Berlinski, an educational technology entrepreneur and SEL consultant, about how teachers can strategically use video games to help their students develop social and emotional skills, and about these skills’ importance for career readiness.
  • Two Texas congressmen—one Democrat, one Republican—embark on an impromptu road trip to the nation’s capital when their flights are cancelled because of snow. What sounds like the beginning of a joke in today’s highly partisan climate actually is a lesson in social and emotional learning suggests Education Week’s Evie Blad.