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CASEL Report Finds Serious Deficiencies in SEL Teacher Training

With so many schools across the country implementing social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, this CASEL report raises some cause for concern in its finding that educators are not receiving adequate SEL training in their teacher preparation programs. The report reveals "a profound disconnect between what states require teachers to know about SEL and what colleges and universities offer them." Along with this key finding, the report provides some useful information on how to effectively incorporate SEL into teacher preparation programs.

Social and emotional learning blends five areas together which include, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. These five areas represent areas of development that both teachers and students should embark on together in a classroom setting. The CASEL report was conducted in two phases where they concentrated on the state-level teacher certification requirements that include SEL for phase one. In phase two a "corpus of courses" was created and included commentary and advice from deans of colleges of education all over the U.S.

"We found that ten states addressed four of the five core Teachers’ SEL dimensions (competency areas) and that 36 states had requirements that addressed one, two, or three of the five core Teachers’ SEL dimensions," according to the report. 

This shows that SEL is very much a part of U.S. classrooms but the report also claims that "very few states require pre-service teachers to learn the skills" they need to explore the five aforementioned areas. 

"More than half of all states have state-level teacher certification requirements that have a comprehensive focus on the promotion of Students’ SEL," according to the CASEL report.

While that is the case, the study also found that "the promotion of Students’ SEL is given little attention in required courses in teacher preparation programs in colleges of education in the U.S." It is an area that needs improvement but with SEL being a relatively new pedagogical focus, parents and educators should expect an increase in attention. 

CASEL spoke with a number of deans of colleges of educations, who shared their thoughts on how to better spread SEL practices to teachers and students.

"Most of the time we look through the lens of classroom management. We need to retool and look for ways to prepare teachers to foster SEL competencies by providing a theoretical and conceptual framework, and provide experiential opportunities where student teachers understand there are pedagogical approaches and curricula that help them foster these competencies," said Robert C. Pianta, Dean at Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. 

"In pre-service teacher training I believe we have to broaden our ideas of the child in the context of the constellation of variables in their lives (this include the practicum experience). We need to think beyond IQ and cognitive ability. We need to look at influences of poverty and income. We need to ask ourselves where do kids find themselves when they come to learning environments? How do these cultural, social, and emotional variables impact them?" Pianta continued.

The groundwork is certainly there for SEL integration but there is still work to be done with respect to fostering teachers' and students' SEL development. The CASEL report identifies a reason for why successful SEL implementation has yet to be fully realized in U.S. schools as well as offers a possible roadmap to achieve that goal. 

Read the full report here.

Article by Navindra Persaud, EducationWorld Contributor


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