Last week many district leaders gathered for a workshop on “Heart – Mind Wellbeing”. Heart-Mind well-being works to develop a balance between educating the mind with educating the heart. SD 60 is part of a Heart Mind in Schools initiative being spearheaded by the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education that is supported by research and grounded in sound educational practice.
Like most school systems, our district is focused upon teaching excellent cognitive skills and promoting strong academic achievement. We also recognize the positive impacts of social and emotional learning (SEL). In fact, research shows that heart and mind learning are highly interconnected, and that improving children’s social and emotional skills directly benefits their ability to learn. In our district we have long said that we want our students to be some of the best for the world as well as best in the world. Heart Mind practices help us achieve that goal.
The science behind SEL is impressive. Children who develop social and emotional skills have better attitudes about themselves and others, and enjoy better social interactions. They are less aggressive, more skilled in handling difficult emotions, and they have lower levels of emotional distress. Students who receive Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) instruction improve on average 11 percentile points on standardized achievement tests, compared to students who do not receive such instruction.
Heart Mind Learning focuses upon five domains. Instruction aims to help students get along with others, be alert and engaged, compassionate and kind and secure and calm in order to solve problems peacefully. These domains are neatly encapsulated in a heart shaped graphic.
SEL creates conditions that increase children’s abilities to deal with adversity, to understand and work with others, and to make good choices in their actions. Along with a good academic base, SD 60 is working to develop students who demonstrate compassion, empathy and confidence and can better manage the difficult emotions, anxieties, and fears that can get in the way of achieving their goals. Our district motto is “Together We Learn” and SEL helps make that happen.