Many education researchers have come to see social-emotional learning
as a key that unlocks solutions to a host of challenges. Through programs that emphasize traits such as self-awareness, relationship-building, decision-making, and resilience, social-emotional learning is proving a robust toolkit for increasing academic achievement; nurturing prosocial behaviors such as kindness, sharing, and empathy; improving student attitudes toward school; and even reducing depression and stress. In short, social-emotional learning—particularly in the formative elementary and middle school years—can shape the foundations of students’ ability to succeed in high school, college, and life.
At Shore, the high stakes around this kind of learning have underscored a decades-long commitment to creating and sustaining a culture in which students feel safe and may thrive. From Pre-K to Grade 9, Shore students today find vital social and emotional support within a layered, research-based network of strategies and structures that’s broad in scope and surprising in sophistication.
In the Lower School, building such an environment starts in the homeroom, where social and emotional learning are at the center of every day’s routine, thoroughly integrated into a teaching model called “Responsive Classroom.” In the Responsive Classroom model, students learn and practice a set of social and emotional competencies—cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control—alongside academic skills; the combination allows them to do their best work, and be their best selves.
As children “graduate” from the Lower School’s homeroom model to the Upper School advisory system, they meet numerous times each week with an advisor, who in many ways serves the same role as a homeroom teacher. Students’ access to an advisor’s support is built into the academic schedule at several points throughout the week. With their advisor, students continue practicing the same social-emotional competencies they learned in the Lower School’s Responsive Classroom model.
For adults—teachers and parents—the social and emotional lives of students may come to the surface at only intermittent moments during the day. Yet for elementary and middle school-aged children, social and emotional concerns constitute a powerful current that’s never confined to isolated moments. Rather, they’re a central piece of the learning they’re engaged in at Shore each day.