SEL supports administrators to strengthen practices that promote equity by offering a way for adults to examine their identity, bias, and mindset. As a school leader, you set the tone for your team. Your ability to model and promote SEL skills will have a big impact on those around you. School administrators should strive to create opportunities for staff to learn about and strengthen SEL professional skills and their own social and emotional competence to improve the educational experience for each and every student.
Administrators Should Aim to Model The Following SEL Competencies
Teachers appreciate it when their admin “checks in” and “checks on” them. After all, we are people first and educators second. Too often the requisite “How are you?” elicits an automatic “I’m fine” response.
It’s important to let educators know that it’s OK to not be OK.
Manage Their Emotions (Self-Management)
At times, it can be very easy to get flooded by feelings and swept away by emotions. Teachers appreciate leaders who can effectively manage their emotions and respond rather than react.
How do you take care of yourself when things are difficult? What helps you manage your emotions?
Express Empathy (Social Awareness)
Teachers are stressed and tired. They need their leaders to show up and try to see things from their perspective. That’s where empathy comes in. Empathy is the ability to understand and respond to the feelings of others. This includes being curious about understanding another’s perspective and looking beyond your own point of view to see something as they do.
Build a Culture of Connectedness (Social Awareness)
Create situations for staff to connect with one another. They need time to talk and catch up with each other.
“There are no good schools without good principals. It just doesn’t exist. And where you have good principals, great teachers come, they stay, they work hard, and they grow.”—Arne Duncan, Former U.S. Secretary of Education
Are Instructional Leaders (Relationship Skills)
Educators respect administrators who are themselves, good teachers. Whether you come in to read a story to kindergartners or participate in a Socratic seminar in a high school classroom, it’s important to take an active part in the school community.
Solicit Feedback (Responsible Decision-Making)
How do you know that you are giving teachers what they need to be successful? This is especially helpful in balancing the power dynamic since administrators frequently evaluate teachers. Asking for feedback shows people that you value their opinion. Feedback enables improvement, and we can’t improve what we can’t see!
Show Love (Relationship Skills)
People appreciate being appreciated. Recognition is essential to creating a positive school climate. You may be surprised to find how many simple, genuine expressions of gratitude inspire your team to do their best. Facilitate opportunities for them to “show some love” to each other so they can see “what’s going right” at any moment. Students and adults learn better when they are engaged. We say that professional development should be FUN!