Social and Emotional Learning
A Safe Place Where Students Have a Voice
As part of Pikes Peak Online School's holistic approach to each student's success, we offer a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program to provide additional wrap-around services.
The SEL program is an important part of learning at Pikes Peak Online School. It provides a "safe place where the spotlight is on students," says Early King, K12's Senior Director, High School Business Unit, who has worked with the at-risk population for more than 20 years and helped develop this and similarly ground-breaking programs for other K12-powered schools.
School counselors work closely with staff to deliver a school wide SEL program through advisory sessions with students. A faculty member is assigned as an advisor to students, somewhat like a "homeroom teacher." This advisory role focuses on social and emotional learning. The advisor creates dedicated communication channels and activities to promote these concepts with students. Parents or Learning Coaches are expected to become involved in the advisory sessions, as needed, to provide continuity of goals.
Through the program, students grow in four key social and emotional areas necessary for thriving in school and life:
- Social awareness
- Relationship building
- Responsible decision-making
In the live online sessions, students discuss topics relevant to their lives, creating a strong sense of belonging and community among peers, as well as allowing the teacher to learn more about each student on a deeper, more personal level.
As a result of sharing in a respectful environment where people listen to and value those who contribute, the students discover a vital part of their personal identity - their own voice. And as their confidence and self-esteem grow, students begin to flourish in class and beyond.
Teachers Focus on Their Students' Well-Being
Through the program, our teachers, who are trained in SEL support and facilitation techniques, focus on their students' academic, social, and emotional well-being. For example, because of a deeper understanding of students' lives through group discussions, a teacher may learn that a participant has chronic health issues. After addressing this issue with the student, the teacher will notify the Family Support Team, which will help the student connect to the services he or she needs most.
Our teachers are also adept at facilitating discussions that connect students' real-life world to their academic studies. A teacher may open the day's discussion about an instance of social injustice reported in the news, and then draw the group into a conversation about a book they're studying, such as Lord of the Flies.
"Through the SEL program, students who once felt like outsiders can discover the worth of their individuality within a community," says King. "They're developing life-changing skills that will help them be successful students, productive adults, and generous citizens."