Committee for Children Blogs

Welcome to our own little corner of the blogosphere! This is the place to read about all things social-emotional learning related from the points of view of parents, teachers, and school psychologists. Happy reading!

Published on Friday, March 17, 2017

SXSWedu 2017 Recap: Social-Emotional Learning and Equity Take Center Stage at Annual EdTech Conference

Last week, Committee for Children had the privilege of attending SXSWedu in Austin, TX. The annual conference draws over 10,000 educators, academics, and professionals from around the world to discuss hot topics in the education technology (EdTech) field. This year's conference included the usual panels and parties, but featured a new emphasis on equity, creativity, and social-emotional learning (SEL). Here are three of our top takeaways:

1) Despite skepticism from many, digital tools can help boost SEL.

Committee for Children's own innovation director Mia Doces participated on a panel along with an entrepreneur and an investor to discuss the implications of building digital tools for SEL. The session had over 180 people in attendance, and the Twitter back channel reflected a great deal of interest in, and enthusiasm for, the topic. Real-world examples of digital tools created by Committee for Children’s New Mission Ventures team  (including Mind Yeti, Parachute, and a Minecraft research project), as well as HopeLab and Facebook, helped make the case for why technology can make SEL better. Questions remain about how to measure impact and outcomes, but as panelist Steve Arnold put it, “[Children] today have equivalent meaning in their virtual and real-world relationships. Digital tools for SEL don’t have to be a game or VR. It can be about broadly meeting kids where they are.”

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2) When an entire district adopts mindfulness as a guiding principle for SEL, the impact can be astounding.

Mindfulness was on the agenda at SXSWedu, thanks to a two-hour session led by representatives from the Austin Independent School District. SEL experts James Butler, Hilary Smith, and Jason Littlefield shared stories of how mindfulness has impacted classroom culture and teacher retention, and discussed strategies for how to get buy-in for mindfulness across schools and the entire district. Later, the Committee for Children team was lucky enough to visit three Austin elementary schools using Mind Yeti, and see the local mindfulness movement in action.



3) To move forward, the EdTech industry must focus on empathy and equity, not just technology.

This year's conference included a number of powerful sessions about the need for equity in EdTech, including Christopher Emdin’s powerful keynote on the first day. Later, a number of design thinking and makerspace sessions emphasized empathy as a key component of equity building. At Committee for Children, we’re committed to both empathy and equity. We're proud to be part of building programs and tools that address these—and other—key issues in education.

What are your keys takeaways from SXSWedu? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using the hashtag #Tech4SEL.


 

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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Curious. Active. Egocentric. Argumentative. Inconsistent. Restless. Moody. Optimistic. Rebellious. Hopeful. Introspective. At-risk. Idealistic.

Sound like someone you know?

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What SEL and Academics Look Like Together: The New Second Step Middle School Curriculum

Social-emotional skills are essential for academic success. For example, there are many connections between social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies and mathematics. To solve mathematical problems, students need skills such as perseverance and determination. They need to self-evaluate, communicate arguments, stay calm when facing challenging problems, recognize when they lack knowledge to solve a problem, and seek help from others in tough situations. Useful skills for any subject!
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Summer Sanity Series - Part 2 Keeping Your Summer Fun On Track

Summer is in full swing now and everyone is embracing the sunshine and the warm weather. With all the fun summer activities, parents tend to get a little more relaxed in their parenting. Being a bit more flexible and going with the flow can be wonderful and liberating, unless you are undoing the habits you worked so hard to maintain the rest of the year.
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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Committee for Children takes great pride in how we develop our Second Step program. We not only take the most current research in the field and translate it into lessons that use best practices in pedagogy, but we take pains in designing those lessons to be user-friendly. The melding of these components results in a program that is effective, well received, and reaches millions of children each year.
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ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo Recap

A few members of the Committee for Children (CFC) team had the privilege of attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas June 25-28. Rachel Kamb, a Product Manager here at CFC, also presented a session with Gary Goldberger and Leigh Hallisey of FableVision Studios titled ‘Empathy Empowers: Digital Learning Strategies’.

Read Kamb’s review of ISTE 2017 as well as a summary of the session, below.  

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The Bully Pulpit

Fifteen years ago, few states had explicit legislation aimed to reduce bullying. Today every state in the country has adopted policies to minimize bullying. Overall, 28% of students reported victimization in 2005 (when statistics were first collected) while 22% reported being victimized in 2015 (U.S. Department of Education).
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Teacher Health and Wellness: Fostering Student Achievement by Supporting Teachers’ Mental and Physical Well-being

On June 14, 2017, Committee for Children and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) held a briefing on teacher health and wellness that was attended by over 30 people from congressional offices, national nonprofits, and academia.
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Middle School Students and Teachers Reveal How the Second Step Middle School Program Fosters Academic Success

Students and teachers from diverse classrooms across the country reported connections between social and emotional learning (SEL) and academics during their interviews about the new Second Step Middle School curriculum after piloting it in their classrooms. They shared many different examples of how the social skills learned in the new Second Step Middle School curriculum contributed to academic success.
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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

An exciting part of the early design work we did on our new Second Step Middle School Program was traveling around the country speaking to educators about what they needed from us. One thing we learned is there is tremendous diversity in the students we’re reaching, tremendous diversity in how the program is delivered, and that whatever we create needs to be flexible enough to work in many different situations.
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