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    Sand Point Elementary Supports Students’ Social Emotional Learning
    Posted on 12/16/2019
    A group of students and teachers sit together during a school assembly. One child looks over their shoulder at the camera.

    This is me: Sand Point Elementary Supports Students’ Social Emotional Learning

    As part of the district’s focus on Safe and Welcoming Environments, we believe that, in all schools, student voice should be evident, and students must be seen and celebrated for their authentic selves.

    Significant increases in academic outcomes for students furthest from educational justice are possible when social, cultural, emotional, and behavioral needs of students are met by educators that share an unconditional belief in the potential of every student they serve.

    At Sand Point Elementary, students and staff strive to demonstrate that they are a community of lifelong learners, responsible global citizens, and champions of success. One way this school community works toward that goal is focusing on Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

    The 220 Sandpoint Squirrels participate in the district's standard Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions (RULER) curriculum, and the staff have developed a grade K-5 SEL curriculum using RULER anchor tools to teach self- and social-awareness. Sand Point’s full-time counselor, Bryan Manzo, creates the monthly advisory lesson, teaches a weekly guidance lesson to each classroom, and collaborates with students to create, film, and edit videos to support the lesson. To watch the student videos, visit Why The Face?

    “It is very challenging to find exemplary kindness in the adult world right now. There is very little modeling,” says Manzo, which is why prioritizing students’ emotional and psychological health and intentionally building their skills around these practices is so crucial. Staff at Sand Point know that social emotional literacy can be taught within an integrated, academic setting. Pairing SEL domains with English language arts (ELA) curriculum provides a comprehensive way to address a variety of student needs, which supports the wellbeing of the school community, while also providing instructional opportunities for core content.

    But this integration did not happen by accident. Teachers, staff, and the leadership team met to very intentionally collaborate on creating a building-wide set of expectations, practices, and language around social emotional learning.

    From that work, and extensive review of disaggregated data, the school decided to initiate monthly whole-school assemblies. These assemblies are organized around the month’s SEL theme and provide opportunities to highlight individual students, in front of their peers, and celebrate their identities and behaviors. Students are recognized for being strong learners and helping others see themselves as learners, for sharing the language and culture of their home country, and for persisting with their learning even when a subject is particularly challenging.

    The November assembly packed the school’s cafeteria. Parents, community members, teachers, support staff, and a beaming Principal Roberts, wearing a Black Lives Matter at Sand Point Elementary shirt, welcomed the students with a round of applause. The entire school, adults included, sang the school song and listened attentively as the month’s theme was explained, their peers were recognized, and the kindergarten class gave a rousing rendition of “This is Me,” from The Greatest Showman.

    The energy after the assembly was positive, warm, and contagious. It was clear that the parallel teaching of academic and social emotional literacy skills was contributing to a strong school climate and providing opportunities for students to be celebrated for all that they are.

    Read about safe and welcoming schools and the district’s five-year strategic plan, Seattle Excellence.