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Strengthening the Pipeline of SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) Workforce Development With Higher Education Faculty and Staff

Fri, April 12, 9:35 to 11:05am, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 3, Room 304


Objectives/purposes. Many studies in the AERA SEL SIG in the last five years have called for more focus on the SEL development of preservice teachers. We have not, however, seen many attempts to develop SEL skills in the faculty and staff who work with these higher education students. Just like K-12 teachers need SEL skill development to be better prepared to teach their students, so do higher education faculty and staff. This paper aims to examine a common teacher professional development approach (Communities of Practice) applied to Higher Education Faculty and Staff.

Theoretical framework. This study is based on a model developed by Markowitz and colleagues and then evaluated and found to have many positive impacts on learning (evaluation: Melnick & Martinez, 2019; future evolution of model: Markowitz & Bouffard, 2022). The model is grounded in the tenet that learning occurs in relationships – even adult learning – and that SEL requires personal skill development before being able to skillfully facilitate SEL development in others.

Methods, data, and results. This session will include a review of six key themes and representative scenarios from discussion notes for (N=20) participants across six community of practice sessions (12 hours total). Structured discussion note protocols include four specific areas: (1) Self-awareness of own SEL and Racial Equity Skills, (2) Reflections on practice from another Point of View, (3) Engaging in Empathy for Student and Self Challenges with SEL & Racial Equity, and (4) Applied Pedagogy across Disciplines (e.g., Education, Social Work, Counseling, Nursing, etc.).

Scholarly significance and implications. This session has the potential to apply past findings on adult learning to higher education faculty and staff who are frequently left out of SEL professional development models. We have seen few opportunities to link faculty and staff professional develop across disciplines of adults that will work with children, and across universities, and with community partners who are learning the same core SEL practice messages. The model for this yearlong program will be freely shared with audience members and open for critique and application in other university and college settings. Ultimately, the goal is to make this model freely available online, after feedback and iteration.