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This paper provides findings from the second of a three-year implementation and evaluation study (known for the purposes of this proposal as Project SEDTL) within a large state university’s 5th year Multiple Subject Teacher Credential program. The project is distinguished by its focus on developing strategies that integrate the Social-Emotional Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (SEDTL) into the course/field experiences rather than using a separate SEL program. Project SEDTL develops candidates’ ability to use an “SEL lens” as part of their teaching practice.
The four questions guiding the evaluation were:
1) To what extent do teacher candidates demonstrate increased SEDTL content knowledge?
2) To what extent have teacher candidates and graduates incorporated SEDTL strategies in their practice?
3) How are cooperating teachers incorporating SEDTL strategies in their practice?
4) How are university supervisors in the education department at SJSU incorporating SEDTL strategies into their teaching/coaching?
There is an urgent need, but minimal attention paid (Schonert-Reichl, 2015) to preparing teacher candidates who can respond to students facing ever-increasing stress and expectations in a rapidly changing world (Mercury News, July 19, 2016). SEL, which supports students’ academic achievement and fosters their ability to thrive, is defined as a process through which “children enhance/their ability to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving to achieve important life tasks.” (Zins et al., 2004). Teachers help promote the social and emotional learning skills students need to be college and career ready...” (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), 2010a; NGA Center & CCSSO, 2010b). Durlak et al ( 2011) state that SEL improve(s) students’ social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, and positive social behavior; and reduce(s) conduct problems and emotional distress and improve(s) students’ achievement. Students with strong SEL skills are resilient, self-aware, and socially competent. (Elias,1997; Zins et al. 2004). Further, teachers recognize the importance of targeting these skills in schools (Civic Enterprises et al, 2013).
WestEd conducted several data collection activities to address the questions guiding this evaluation and worked collaboratively with the Project Director and Assistant Director in the development of the data collection instruments. Data collection included teacher candidate pre and post program surveys; teacher candidate focus group; cooperating teacher pre and post surveys; cooperating teacher focus group; university supervisor focus group; and review of archival data.
1. Candidates understanding importance of social-emotional learning skills in teaching, and wanting to incorporate them in lesson planning and implementation.
2. The importance and power of SEL professional development for cooperating teachers
3. The importance of providing teacher candidates with modeling, practice and feedback of specific SEL-informed practices that support their desire to use an SEL lens in their practice.
As states begin to adopt teacher performance standards that include SEL s, teacher educators need a roadmap to incorporate these skills into their programs and means of gathering data on the effectiveness of their efforts. This implementation and evaluation effort will support other programs’ efforts.