Social Emotional Learning
Explore uses the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach to create a safe environment where children are able to take academic and social risks. The RC approach helps children understand the importance of kindness toward and acceptance of all people, to celebrate differences in people and cultures, and to learn important social skills such as empathy and problem solving. Drawing upon the work of many great educational theorists and practitioners, Responsive Classroom operates on the following seven guiding principles:
- The social and emotional curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.
- How children learn is as important as what they learn.
- Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
- To be successful academically and socially, children need to learn a set of social and emotional skills that include cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
- Knowing the children we teach—individually, culturally, and developmentally—is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children we teach.
- How we, the adults at school, work together is as important as our individual competence: Lasting change begins with the adult community.
The Responsive Classroom approach offers interconnected strategies to use in classrooms such as: starting each school day with Morning Meeting, where students work together on group activities and greet each other; creating clear and consistent approaches to discipline that foster social responsibility; and classroom organization and family communication strategies to involve families as partners in their children’s education.
School Wide Social-Emotional Learning Components
Move This World: is a social and emotional curriculum that ritualizes a daily practice of identifying, expressing and managing emotions. The online platform encourages classrooms to strengthen social and emotional learning in fun and interactive ways. It builds empathy and resilience and helps to provide additional common culture.
Restorative Practices: Restorative practices promote inclusiveness, relationship-building and problem solving, rather than the administration of a punitive consequence. Students are encouraged to reflect and take responsibility for their actions and come up with a plan to repair harm. Two examples of restorative practices which are utilized at Explore are Apology of Action and Restorative Circles.
Mindfulness: Mindful Schools defines Mindfulness as the means maintaining a moment-by moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment with openness and curiosity. It is proven to reduce stress, improve work satisfaction and help with emotional regulation.
Check In: Explorers who need further support will check in one to twice a day with a trusted adult in the building. This check in is a chance to build positive relationships with adults in the building and to review successes and areas for growth. It’s designed to be informal and conversational.
We do not reward students with prizes when they succeed unless the circumstances of a student’s behavior require additional support. We offer specific praise, encouragement, and we celebrate the varying forms of student achievement. Positive whole-group reinforcement furthers development of a supportive school/classroom community.
We believe that, if children only experience extrinsic rewards, they learn to work for those and do not connect their learning to their own goals and the outside world. We strive to help students make these connections, believing that the purpose of learning is to interact thoughtfully with the world.