SEL & College/Career Readiness
"Soft Skills", "Social Skills", "Non-cognitive Skills", "21st Century Skills", etc...are all names that have been used to describe Social Emotional Literacy Skills. Over the last few years when I have had the chance to speak with working professionals, in a wide variety of careers from athletics, to arts, to finance, to law, to medicine, we always end up focusing on three aspects of SEL and professional work life. These aspects are, how do they find and maintain joy in their work, how does empathy play a role in their success*, and have they ever had to advocate for themselves or others. (*In this context of career I am defining "success" as the ability to build and maintain healthy relationships.)
When I ask them about their evaluations or, performance reviews, I am always amazed that the mechanical part of the work (i.e. the job title part) is only a portion of what their employers are analyzing. Much of the evaluation involves looking at evidence of how the employee works with peers, how they handle set-backs, how they manage deadlines and client, customer, patient, relations. The employers look for evidence supporting how their employees think and work creatively, how they problem solve, and what "spirit" or "energy" they seem to bring to the office/practice/team.
When I was in school these types of skills were rarely, if ever, explicitly taught, being most often developed by trial and error. That certainly benefited some. But, I am struck by how many potentially talented people, and, how many truly wonderful ideas never saw the light of day, only because a person or group was deficient in the very SEL skills we are now working to teach.
I truly believe that a wealth of untapped talent, creativity, and innovation lie in the great diversity that sits in our public schools everyday. Systems of government we can't imagine, systems of prosperity we only see in utopian sci-fi (which is not often), solutions to the very real and exceptionally fast moving threat of global warming, social equity, and the ability to honestly understand and support free speech, are all just waiting for us, again, sitting in classrooms everyday. (I see it, I'm not making this up!)
As educators and adults, it is our job to ensure that all students are able to access their full intellectual, emotional, spiritual, musical rhythmic, bodily kinesthetic, natural intelligences so that they can better navigate the world that we currently struggle in.
Okay, I'm preaching, here's the basics. There is not a separation between College and Career Readiness Skills and SEL skills. In fact all College and Career Readiness skills are SEL skills. SEL skills are the skills that enable students to build and maintain the academic capacity and personal/social development necessary for getting into college and for getting a career afterward.
COMING SOON - More materials, less preaching.