Relationships Matter: New Social-Emotional Learning Program Proposed for CSD High Schools

If it wasn’t clear before, then the era of COVID-19 has made it certain:  Students who are overwhelmed by social or academic pressures — or feel like a nameless face in the crowd in the hallways of the school — are not likely to reach their fullest potential. 

To the end of helping students navigate modern pressures and develop character traits that are crucial for success in life and school,  Canyons District put into place the acclaimed “Second Steps” social-emotional learning curriculum in elementary and middle schools. 

Now, the District is moving toward implementing an acclaimed SEL curriculum in its high schools. 

Under consideration by the Canyons Board of Education is “School-Connect — Optimizing the High School Experience,” which would be part of CSD’s multi-pronged approach to wellness.

The curriculum, officials say, aims to improve teen social, emotional, and academic skills, and strengthen relationships among students and between students and teachers. Now more than ever it is vital that all students are taught skills that, according to research, are vital for success in the classroom and beyond. This includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. 

“Our experience during the pandemic school year has continued to shed light on an already-growing need for social emotional support, especially based on the number of students who are reporting increased levels of anxiety, depression, suicide ideation and other social stressors,” says BJ Weller, CSD’s Director of Responsive Services.  “As we plan for recovery from the pandemic, the need for aligned SEL curriculum in all our schools has never been greater.”

The multimedia lessons in “School-Connect” drive at the curriculum’s major goal:  To increase every student’s sense of belonging at the school, especially in the freshman year — that time in a student’s life when social and academic pressures are dialed up. The world, suddenly full of large hallways, upperclassmen, difficult classes, and social pressures, can seem overwhelming. 

Research clearly shows that students who feel welcome at school and have built and maintained relationships with peers and teachers are more likely to have strong attendance records and perform well academically. Students who feel unsafe, unwelcome or unknown often disengage both socially and academically. 

The proposed curriculum, which dovetails with the social-emotional curriculum used in CSD elementary and middle schools, will fulfill state-required initiatives to prevent bullying and provide character education.

Canyons parents can review some sample lessons in “School-Connect,” which is the only comprehensive, high school SEL curriculum that is aligned with “Second Step and standards established by a national SEL advisory organization, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).  The program is being used in schools across the country. 

Click here for sample lessons. 

Questions or comments about “School-Connect” can be directed to CSD’s Responsive Services Department at 801-826-5021.  Input also can be provided via email at communications@canyonsdistrict.org

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