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Portland, ME: Schools focus on "social-emotional skills" to counter trauma from home

Nov 19, 2018, Falmouth (ME) Forecaster: Superintendent's Notebook: Students need more than academics … At the Portland Public Schools, we know students need more than academics to prepare them for college and career. We believe that academics, work habits, and social-emotional skills are equally important in school and in life. In fact, that belief is the third of our district’s seven Core Beliefs about Learning. This is the third in our series of columns about our Learning Beliefs that I’m writing with Melea Nalli, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. This month, we’ll discuss how social-emotional learning and positive habits of work and learning are essential components of a well-rounded education, along with academics. … SEL also is vitally important for success. Research shows that multiple adverse childhood experiences in students’ lives can impact the brain and learning. Students across all income and racial backgrounds can be impacted. That is why the Portland Public Schools, Maine’s largest and most diverse school district, believes that SEL skills are important for all our students. We are striving to build a full continuum of behavioral health supports that range from proactive development of SEL skills, such as responsible decision-making, to more responsive mental health supports for students with more significant needs. Our schools are setting up structures and routines to facilitate this work, and we’re providing our teachers with SEL professional development to help them weave SEL into their instruction. Here are some examples of what we are doing to support SEL and HOWLs development:… Providing trauma-sensitive supports and structures for students who have greater needs: For example, in some schools we use mindfulness practices or “calm spaces” to help students manage their emotions. …


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