The goal of every school is to support the social and emotional needs of all students. The most intensive support often goes to the few students who seem to “need it the most,” those with the most obvious need.
But if we want to support every student, we need a system to check in on all of them on a regular basis. When done correctly, assessing social emotional learning supports everyone in the school, regardless of the general perception of who “really” needs it.
To fully understand the importance of this, we must recognize that there are two types of student behavior that might need support: externalizing and internalizing.
Externalizing behavior is, as its name suggests, external. These students are typically easy to spot in a school or classroom. They might have outbursts in the classroom and confrontations with others on the playground and tend to be less aware of the choices that they make. Since these students are so noticeable, schools might already have discipline data about them in the form of office referrals or consequences given. Finding these students is not the hard part for schools, but supporting them can be.
These students need adults to connect with them. Teachers and faculty can see the outbursts and behavior, but without further insight into the student’s wellbeing, any support offered might be for naught. Frequent check-ins with these students through a systematic tool, like ei Pulse, can be ideal for helping teams as they create support plans for students. If teams lack specific information about how the student is feeling, intervention measures might be misled.
Students who possess internalizing behaviors do not typically stand out from the crowd. Research indicates that “[c]hildren that display internalizing symptomatology may be depressed and overlooked in a classroom setting, especially if they are quiet or withdrawn.” We can look for other signs in possibly at-risk students, including being withdrawn from other students, having frequent absences, and frequent visiting the health room.
Since these students are not as overt in signaling their need for support, simply monitoring absences might not be sufficient. Schools should be proactive when assessing social emotional learning for internalizing students. Although challenging, gaining insight is critical to support all students who need it.
For both externalizing students and internalizing students, the type of support that comes from the social emotional learning curriculum or interventions should flow from the gathered data. Having access to this ensures that every student in the school can be accounted for. Here are a few more advantages of ei Pulse:
- Data from students is regular, ongoing, and systematic. Students are dynamic, as are the environments in which they live. Through regular check-ins with students, teachers and schools can monitor data throughout the school year, not just a few times during screening processes.
- With data, insight is gained and decisions can be made. Keep in mind that interventions might look different for different types of students, but without this information, teams are left in the dark about what might actually work to help a student. By checking in with every student, schools can respond to all the diverse needs that might arise.
- Teams can monitor if interventions are working. We hope to see improvement in behavior as we increase support. Social emotional learning assessment is one part of this data collection, along with teacher notes and office referral data. Teams should have all this information to see the “big picture” of whether something is working.
Assessing social emotional learning provides essential information for schools. Since students and their needs are diverse, a tool like ei Pulse is the best way to ensure that both internalizing and externalizing students have systematic check-ins each week. With this tool, we can know what is working, what is not working, and where support can be added or adjusted. In the end, we can meet the needs of all of our students, which is always the number-one goal.
Here at Educator Impact, we help school leaders keep a pulse on their students’ wellbeing and empower them with tools that leverage real-time student insights to inform SEL strategies, identify which students need further support, and enable them to continually improve their SEL initiatives.
To see how we can help you do the same for your school community, feel free to reach out to our SEL and wellbeing experts today!