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Ellis: How to Promote Social, Emotional, and Character Development


As more and more schools adopt social and emotional learning standards and realize that students’ college and career success depends strongly on their social, emotional, and character development (SECD), teachers are looking for guidance as to how to bring SECD into their classrooms every day. Whether or not your class has a systematic curriculum, students benefit when SECD is part of academics and classroom conversations and procedures. 

Members of our Rutgers SECD Lab have the good fortune of visiting many schools in New Jersey, across the nation, and internationally. Culled from our observations of what teachers are doing in many schools, each of the eight areas below includes a list of strategies that you can introduce into classroom and school routines without any funding or in-service training. 

1. Be a positive role model in your words and actions:

  • calm yourself down when you’re upset,
  • use a problem-solving process to help you make decisions,
  • reflect on what you have done and try to learn from it, and
  • live a life of social commitment and concern for others.

 2. Respond to real-life situations by:

  • showing measured reactions to students’ behaviors,
  • offering students choice and voice,
  • providing opportunities for students to give feedback to each other,
  • noting the consequences of their choices, and
  • providing second chances when appropriate.

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