By viewing school safety issues with a social-emotional learning lens, we can work together to build a positive and safe school climate and culture that better supports learning. When students feel safe, comfortable, and understood, they begin class ready to learn.
Social emotional learning starts with adult learning
In our work with districts emphasizing promising practices in instruction and engagement, we often see a need to demonstrate – and sometimes build – social-emotional skills in the adults teaching and supporting students. After all, how can we expect our students to learn these skills if we don’t demonstrate them ourselves?
Don’t sacrifice emotional safety in your pursuit of physical safety
While schools might benefit from practical and assertive safety measures, such as having police officers on campus, these law enforcement professionals must also be equipped to build positive and trusting relationships with students. Otherwise, students may feel that they are being policed rather than protected.
Interrupt cycles of conflict with restorative justice
Behavior support systems that use a restorative justice model have the potential to empower students to resolve conflict, and decrease inequitable suspension rates
Leverage partnerships to improve social-emotional learning
Supporting social and emotional learning allows schools to improve the conditions for academic learning. One way to do this is to embrace the strengths of community-based partners, such as after school programs which are well-positioned to support the whole child, given their broader mission and youth development focus.
Measure and improve school climate and culture
Students, teachers and staff, and parents, guardians, and caregivers can participate in surveys to assess their opinions of school culture and climate. Schools can use the data from these surveys to develop quality improvement plans just like they do with academic data.
Five Ways to Improve School Safety with Social-Emotional Learning first appeared in the Sonoma County Office of Education bulletin, Safe Schools, Thriving Students – How Sonoma County Schools are addressing the many challenges of school safety.