The struggle is real: Being a teenager (and pre-teen) is hard.
Think back to when you were a teenager. Do remember the battle of trying to figure out who you were (the self-discovery stage) and how you felt like no one around you could understand you (i.e., adults just don’t get it)? Then there’s the issue of the onset of acne, the invasion of the hormone body snatchers, and just being self-conscious about your body in general. Many of us were in the battle of trying to convince peers of how braces and glasses were cool. The overall awkwardness alone was enough to make you feel like you could die from embarrassing moments.
And these were just the personal struggles.
What about the struggles at school? The many different teachers, the challenges of learning new skills and concepts (especially when some subjects didn’t ‘click’ with you), the due dates, the tests (and the anxiety that came with them), and the dread and fear of failure and judgment. All of these struggles can be compounded with being picked on and bullied.
What about FOMO – or the fear of missing out? Teenagers and tweens can develop social stress if they’ve missed something due to not having their phones by them and staying connected at all times (even sleep with their phones). Or worse still, develop self-esteem problems if they are left out purposely by their peers.
And now with Generation Z being true digital natives: growing up digitally while finding themselves (self-awareness), and learning communication skills, digital citizenship, and positive decision-making skills, kids of this generation need social emotional learning more now than ever before!
SEL and the Impact on Students
Students are faced with difficult challenges and feelings more so now than ever before. And many of our students are hesitant to talk about their problems let alone knowing how to handle them.
SEL can be compounded by the challenges of technology that teens and tweens face. Technology and media consumption adds a complex layer to dealing with social emotional learning.
A recent study by University of California, Dominguez Hills, of middle school, high school, and university age students, “found that the average student studied for fewer than six minutes before switching tasks, often distracted by technology including social media or texting.”
When we talk about social emotional learning in conjunction with a well-rounded education that adheres to addressing the whole learner, we also think about critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and decision making. How is the abundance of (and dare I say addiction to) media consumption (including social media) allowing for our students to learn how to think deeply and critically? How can they develop strong reasoning and positive decision-making skills? “Most adolescent brains aren’t ready to think about the consequences of their actions, plan for the future, or manage their impulses.” Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that some of our kids could be growing up without the skills needed to think critically because they don’t have the attention span to stay on a task long enough to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
However, technology doesn’t just affect critical thinking skills and problem-solving. It also plays a major role in bullying, digital citizenship, communication skills, and more. According to stopbullying.gov, “Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school. Many fewer have been cyberbullied.”
An even more staggering and jarring statistic: “Only about 20 to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.”
How can we – the adults – provide a safe and healthy and productive environment for our kids to come to us and share when they feel unsafe, confused, scared, concerned, cornered, or worried? (The answer is at the bottom if you can’t wait to find out!)
This is a challenging question that many schools face.
The Struggle for Schools
In a 2015 Edweek.org random survey of 500 respondents, “compared with 2012 survey respondents, educators in 2015 had more negative perceptions of student behavior and the safety of students and staff.”
An additional complexity added to this struggle is like I mentioned, our students not knowing how to talk about their feelings or problems, or not feeling comfortable doing so.
Many students are scared to tell adults about personal or social problems for fear of being labeled a ‘snitch’ or being ‘blacklisted’ by peers if they are found ‘telling on’ them. Our digital native students are used to ‘talking’ digitally, and this is why giving them a platform to communicate their feelings, fears, and peer/social problems through a technology medium are the key to identifying problematic indicators before it becomes too late.
What if a student wanted to talk to someone but didn’t want to alert peers to them seeking help? What if we could provide a “HELP” button that alerted skilled adults who could help immediately or just schedule a chat? What if there was a system that was designed to be highly interactive and inviting for kids to tell their true thoughts and feelings?
Adults also need to be able to get instant feedback to negate any situations that need immediate attention. How can this be done with paper and pencil responses? Just like our digital natives, schools can leverage technology to get immediate feedback alerting them to potentially harmful situations with no delay. What if there was a system that had “FIREWORD” alerts that lets adults immediately know when students are writing potentially dangerous thoughts, allowing adults to quickly intervene?
Some of the most common challenges faced by schools today (middle/high school) are around the following key areas:
- Coping strategies
- Healthy communications
- Anger management
- Digital citizenship
- Impulsive Decision-making
Teachers, parents, district and state leaders, and community members alike are increasing their demands on the shared desire for resources and support to help keep schools healthy and safe, and our students provided with a well-rounded education.
Over the past years, states across the nation have steadily increased their goals, policies, competencies, and in some cases funding, to provide a well-rounded education that includes social and emotional learning. And with the federal, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) making SEL a priority, there’s good news for schools looking for funding to support their SEL initiatives!
SEL Supported Through the Whole Learner
We help schools answer questions such as:
- How can we provide students a well-rounded curriculum through core courses, CTE, and advanced placement?
- How can we best support our students through a powerful and innovative solution that meets kids where they are?
- How can we provide an interactive and inviting platform that allows kids to share their true feelings and thoughts?
- How can we provide students a “Help” tool that immediately alerts adults that a student needs to talk about something, but doesn’t want to alert their peers?
- How can we alert adults immediately to potentially harmful situations or dialogue, in order for them to take immediate action?
- How can we support parents and guardians with knowing how to talk to their kids about sensitive topics?
- And to revisit the question I posed earlier: how can we – the adults – provide a safe and healthy and effective environment for our kids to come to us and share when they feel unsafe, confused, scared, concerned, cornered, or worried?
The answer is BASE Education!
This revolutionary tool prevented 56 student suicides, and 81% of students opened up about difficult issues using BASE Education!
As students interact with the content and the program design, they internalize the impact of their actions and learn methods and reasons for making better choices.
BASE extends the reach of skilled professionals to avert crises and support positive direction and even offers adult courses for parents, guardians, teachers, and school support staff.
BASE was designed to be interactive and inviting, allowing kids to want to share their true thoughts and feelings. When kids want to talk to an adult, but don’t want to draw the attention of their peers, BASE has them covered by offering kids a “HELP” button that allows them to alert an adult that they need to talk immediately or schedule a chat. Additionally, adults are immediately notified of “FIREWORDS” – or written words that could signal dangerous thoughts or feelings that need immediate attention and intervention.
At a glance, BASE Education offers:
And as an SEL program, BASE Education qualifies for multiple funding sources and is aligned with ESSA.
Get in Touch!
Engage with one of Odysseyware’s experts today, on addressing the implementation of your well-rounded education and social emotion learning initiatives in your district through the use of Odysseyware’s Online Learning and BASE Education. Odysseyware can help you establish instructional plans that benefit students, teachers, and administrators and make sure you’re on the right path for executing your SEL goals.