Understanding the Social Emotional Learning Lessons


Benjamin Paul

Coach Rahn Smith teaches World History.

McKenzie Canton, Editor-in-Chief

The Texas Legislature now requires elementary schools to include a Social Emotional Learning curriculum to give support for students’ emotional development. MISD expanded the requirement to all middle and high schools. 

Math teacher, Ms. Sara Kamphaus uses Social-Emotional Learning in her advisory classes given by director Mindy Gregory. She handles all of the lessons created by teachers throughout the district. 

“It’s supposed to be relaxing and king so I didn’t want to put the pressure on people to do something,” Principal Dr.Butler said. 

Dr. Butler designated every Tuesday and Thursday the days teachers can take advantage of the social, emotional learning lessons. For the first year, Dr. Butler wanted to keep the lessons non-stressful and optional so teachers can adjust and see what works best for them. Those that do participate, such as Ms. Sara Kamphaus, have lessons geared to drawing, ice-breaker challenges, stress-relief tactics or goal-setting. Junior Micah Espree engages in these activities in Ms.Kamphaus’s class. 

“I think SEL is a great way to meet the students and learn about who they are and their backgrounds,” Espree said. 

With activities meant to bond with peers and set life goals, SEL is an opportunity for students to better understand who they are. Designed with a purpose to self-reflect and overcome common issues, SEL works on student development as a whole.   

“Lessons in Social-emotional topics can improve student interactions and limit bullying and other bad behaviors,” Ms. Kamphaus said. “Hopefully, some students will gain empathy for others and improve some bad habits or behaviors.”

SEL lessons were not created with the purpose to limit the amount of fighting and chaos that has overwhelmed the student body this year though. Teachers and Dr. Butler did not take into account the flare-up of bad behaviors when creating the lessons over the summer. It has however come as useful tactics teachers can now use to help resolve some of that conflict. 

“This is to ease the level of anxiety,” Dr. Butler said. “We haven’t been around each other in a long time. And so now we have to rebuild relationships – kind of like pushing the reset button on how to do school. We have to give kids and teachers tools to deal with anxiety we’re all feeling it.”

Since COVID-19, anxiety levels have raised above-average rates. With such elevated temperments and fragile feelings, SEL lessons could have an impact to calm and ease the tensions. If the stress is relieved, fighting, arguing and disobedience should decrease. 

“I hope that the students will gain empathy and encouragement from these good lessons,” Kamphaus said. “I’m not sure if the students always enjoy but they are not boring and provide some good thoughts.”

SEL also provides student encouragement. Peers have the ability to help and understand another. Even though teachers can not get to the lessons every advisory period when they do, they have a chance to help students work through social and emotional issues they don’t know how to work out otherwise. 

“I get to see many different outlooks and opinions that help me build a better way of seeing things,” Espree said. “I want to have them more often because it helped me learn more about my classmates.”