Social and Emotional Learning

In 1995, psychologist and New York Times science reporter, Daniel Goleman published the book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ’. In doing so, he promoted that social and emotional learning in schools can enhance academic success and wellbeing, while preventing mental health difficulties. Goleman emphasised the significance of an effective social and emotional learning framework in supporting students with regulating their thoughts, feelings and behaviour, relating well to others, and contributing to society. His work was instrumental in developing the Personal and Social Learning Capability component of the Australian Curriculum which is taught and referred to across all contemporary Australian classrooms.

The Personal and Social Capability framework in the Australian Curriculum is organised into four key areas:

  • Self-Assessment: Personal Awareness (strengths), Emotional Awareness and Reflective Practice.
  • Self-Management: Goal Setting, Emotional Regulation, Perseverance and Adaptability.
  • Social Awareness: Empathy, Relational Awareness and Community Awareness.
  • Social Management: Communication, Collaboration, Leadership, Decision Making and Conflict Resolution.

Phew! Imparting this framework is a significant task and responsibility for staff when there are so many additional components to cover across other subjects. Some social and emotional learning is implicit and occurs through daily teaching, across every stage of schooling as staff model, communicate, engage, discuss, collaborate, and set goals with students. Some learning might take place during extra-curricular activities, on sporting fields or in music tuition, as our senior boys, coaches and instructors’ mentor and guide students through important life lessons - in addition to mastering their crafts. During assemblies, year level meetings and classroom visits, various staff might discuss character strengths, attitudes and social-emotional skills in response to a specific issue or incident.

In our Junior School classrooms, teachers are encouraged to refer to the Zones of Regulation in teaching students to be aware of their feelings/internal state and to develop strategies for self-care, and wellness. Students categorise themselves into four coloured zones (red, yellow, green and blue) and utilise a common language in referring to tools they can use to regulate the zone they are in. Our Junior School boys also engage in the explicit learning of social and emotional skills through the You Can Do It program, which supports the Australian Curriculum and educates on:

  • Confidence – Positive attitudes and ways to think.
  • Persistence – Effort, grit and growth mindset.
  • Organisation – Goals and time management.
  • Getting Along – Positive interactions with others.
  • Resilience – Coping, accepting change and risk taking.

The social and emotional growth of our boys is a mammoth task and one which we also share with our families and community. Going into school holidays, it is important to recognise how we can support the work being done on the social and emotional growth of boys at home by:

  • Inviting powerful learning conversations about emotions using simple questions like “What does being happy feel like to you?” or "What are some things or people who make you happy?”
  • Encouraging boys to identify things they are grateful for through discussion, or by writing a letter or list.
  • Building a home library with picture books which highlight social emotional competencies and skills, will promote discussion, and provide an excellent reference point.
  • Establishing routines which promote goal setting, rule following and time management.
  • Being intentional about how present and connected you are when you are playing together, reading books, singing a song, or having a chat.

Matt Knight
Deputy Head of Junior School