What do you get when 25 teachers, counselors, administrators and SEL specialists converge on the Sanchez elementary library for 6 hours on a Saturday? Jazz hands, of course!
Also, intense and effective collaboration to crank out innovative Social and Emotional Learning work. This diverse cadre of educators tapped a profound well of expertise around social and emotional learning, classroom dynamics, and visionary planning to devise and revise SEL Essential Knowledge and Skills.
Does that sound like official Texas Education Agency language? You bet it is! The goal of this on-going process is to create SEL standards that will eventually become official Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS–the basis of Texas public school curriculum as required by TEA.
Small groups of teachers, administrators and counselors from across AISD convened in their grade bands to address the EKS that the SEL department has used since the beginning of the SEL roll-out three years ago. Those standards, based on official language from the national Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning and tailored to serve Austin schools, have served us well. But now, since SEL is widely taught throughout AISD and is poised to reach every student in all vertical teams as of academic year ’15-’16, it is time to utilize the diverse experiences and skills of Social and Emotional Learning educators to revise, update and further tailor the EKS language. This process ensures that common vocabulary and collective vision inform these standards, so that all district SEL content is high quality, authentic, relevant and measureable.
Wielding large laminated posters and Vis-A-Vis pens, SEL specialists facilitated the small group discussions that resulted in approving, revising or devising the standards’ language. Each SEL student learning objective and its supporting skills were “posterized” for collective consideration, and the groups talked, wrote, doodled, marched, chewed and cheered about them until the posters were covered with changes and notes. Participants considered six key questions while examining each student learning objective, with emphasis on the cultural relevance and appropriateness of each standard, and how it could be demonstrated or measured.
In the next few weeks, the SEL department will compile all the thinking and vision represented on each poster into a new draft of the standards. These will become the foundation of the high caliber SEL content, lessons and professional development that are hallmarks of Austin Independent School District.
The SEL department is deeply grateful to the dedicated educators who gave a Saturday to help keep AISD SEL on the cutting edge of the national Social and Emotional Learning movement. With this kind of innovative collaboration, Austin ISD is continuing to work toward giving each and every student the skills they need to succeed in 21st Century careers and global society. We are #AISDproud and #SELsmart!