A Path to Equity Paved by Social-Emotional Learning

Type: Article
Topics: Equity, School Administrator Magazine, Social Emotional Learning

August 01, 2021

My View

As education leaders, we have long labored to close achievement and opportunity gaps and create inclusive environments in which all students succeed. Over the past several years, our attention to these issues has been heightened by brazen attacks on diverse cultures and blatant displays of racial injustice, prompting a national sense of urgency to address inequity.

So, what can we do differently in our schools to realize the vision of equity in educational opportunity and outcomes?

In my view, the critical intervention rests not so much in the schools’ academic arena as in their social-emotional environment. In attempting to close gaps, we too often take a deficit approach and try to “fix” the student, rather than building on students’ strengths and assets. Students are more than the challenges they face. All students bring a wealth of lived experience and cultural insight that, if tapped, can enable them to be fully present and engaged.

Therefore, the work on equity is not about fixing the student, but rather fixing the school environment so that students feel known and valued, sense a connection to other students and adults, have learning options that enable them to access the curriculum, and see themselves in that curriculum. These are the essential goals of social-emotional learning.

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