East School Demonstrates Social Emotional Learning Success

As a conclusion to the first year of implementation of the Social Emotional Learning approach in the Long Beach School District’s elementary buildings, East School held a weeklong celebration of SEL activities. The philosophy, which focuses on five key competencies, was introduced as a way to foster self-awareness, social awareness, relationship tools, responsible decision-making and self-management skills.

Since September, the schools have held lessons and events designed to help students connect the SEL values with their own life circumstances and thrive as compassionate, respectful, responsible and open-minded individuals. In the culminating activities at East, students engaged in various projects that were based on the key competencies.

In a self-awareness exploration, students created double-sided mirror cutouts, on which they each drew two self-portraits representing the beginning and end of the school year. They compared the images and noted the ways in which they have changed and improved. A social awareness assignment prompted students to reflect on the ways they have learned to show respect or kindness to others.

As a self-management activity, students set goals and made plans for their summer vacations. Many shared intentions to read, complete math problems and use online learning resources to keep their minds sharp during the months off from school. A letter-writing initiative supported relationship management. Students wrote letters to those who have helped them during the school year. Recipients ranged from encouraging administrators and teachers to inspiring classmates and peers who have overcome challenges.

Another highlight to the week was an outdoor hula hoop and human knot activity. Students were required to use their decision-making and teamwork skills to solve problems.