This quote set the context for our Oct. 2 public symposium on social and emotional learning Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz of E3 spent two days with us challenging our thinking about SEL, sharing his talent and his research that bridges academic assessment with culturally responsive teaching.
The cultural resilience content he presented refined my thinking about integrating social emotional learning into my youth development work. One nugget that still has me pondering is defining youth engagement strategies that reflect cultural resilience.
JuanCarlos suggests that to best support young people, we need to slow down to understand and assess a youth's lived experience and their cultural resiliency before we can know how to determine the best ways to engage them in learning. This approach requires changing our current education paradigms. Common Core measures do not properly account for cultural diversity or cultural resilience, especially for those youth growing up in toxic or difficult environments that impact their emotional skills and their academic learning.
"Both under-achieving and high-achieving students are in need of guided practice and assistance to learn how to acknowledge the competencies that are learned from lived experiences and how to translate them into an academic context."
With this passion in mind, JuanCarlos developed the Engagement Identification Tool and the Educational Strengths Assessment Tool that uniquely combine quantitative and qualitative data about each young person, taking cultural resilience into account. These assessment tools then inform how best to engage that youth in learning.
I learned to slow down to learn about the lived experience for individuals, then create engagement strategies that focus on three things:
- building relationships with youth
- recognizing unique skill sets for each youth
- presenting learning content in a culturally responsive manner
Then we can start to shape the 21st century skills that are in high demand for the work force.
Many attending the symposium were looking for specific skills, tools and measurements to assess SEL. Measuring social emotional learning is one of the newer challenges in the youth development field. And we will get there. But first, we need to slow down to assure we bring our cultural awareness and skills to know how to best engage youth in our programs. And maybe some of you are doing that already.
What specific strategies work well for you to know and appreciate the lived experience of youth in your programs to best engage them in our learning environments?
-- Margo Herman, Extension educator
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