Many of you have realized by now that our children have a dedicated time during each school day to Social Emotional Learning, or SEL. This is a fairly new requirement in the curriculum, and is a valuable component of academic success. We decided to chat with school social worker Rene Lee Bryan and BSW intern, Anna Drage, about how they are using a unique form of art work, painting ceiling tiles in the school, to create social emotional learning opportunities with children at Pactolus School. See below to read about some of our recent conversations with them.
PPS-PC: Is Social Emotional Learning a new part of the curriculum, and if so, who decided it should be incorporated into the school day?
Rene & Anna: Dedicated social emotional learning time within the school day is a new process that has been implemented by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). This plan was put into effect in November of 2019 as a way for individual districts, DPI and the NC Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate and formulate a plan for social emotional learning within the classroom. Through our practice, we have seen positive results when students have been given the opportunity to connect both academically and emotionally. Pitt County Schools is committed to creating a restorative school environment and we expect social emotional learning to become an integral part of our learning community for years to come.
PPS-PC: How do you think a time dedicated to social emotional learning enhances academic success for students?
Rene & Anna: A dedicated time for social emotional learning demonstrates to students that their emotional needs are acknowledged and respected by the influential adults around them. This mutual connection allows students to be fully engaged in their academic environment. We believe that students that have a strong sense of self worth and confidence can maximize their academic potential.
PPS-PC: Tell us about the ceiling tile project. It looks like an art project, but you’ve somehow made it both, art and a social emotional experience.
Rene & Anna: The great thing about social emotional learning is that it can be adapted to many learning opportunities. The ceiling tile project was developed as a tool for helping students feel at ease and have a safe space to share their thoughts and feelings while being creative. Although it appears to be an art project, there are specific goals incorporated in the project, such as leadership, self-esteem building, decision making, and having a physical connection to their school. Each student creates their own design, chooses the paint colors, and decides upon the location in which to place their finished tile. This gives the student a sense of accomplishment and belonging.
PPS-PC: What do you think have been some benefits of incorporating the ceiling tiles decorating project into social emotional learning?
Rene & Anna: This project has allowed students to feel they have contributed to their school community in a positive way by creating a work of art they feel proud of. The project allows students to feel empowered and foster positive relationships. To enhance our students’ understanding of equity, this project is a visual representation of how social emotional needs are experienced by both students and staff. We hope that by doing this project we are helping to create a positive environment at Pactolus school.