20 Year teaching veteran Jennifer Wilson sat down with Dr. Mallery to discuss what SEL means to her and its impact on her teaching enviornment every day.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
Throughout my education, I have been fortunate enough to have teachers that have shown up at different stages in my life and helped me through difficult times. I wanted to be that for young people.
Why does Social Emotional Learning matter to you?
SocialEmotional Learning is crucial not only to a student's academic success but includes critical life skills. It is only when you have the ability to understand your emotions, take responsibility for your actions, and have a positive self-image that you are able to create meaningful relationships with others.
How do you incorporate SEL into your work?
I like to think that my students would say that SEL is embedded in everything we do. Some of my favorites are our talk circles and mental health check-ins. It has fostered a sense of community in my classroom and allowed us to connect to one another. I want my classroom to be a place where it is safe to take risks and be yourself.
You recently played a significant role in the development and execution of SPMS SEL Day. What was the driving force behind your efforts? What was your hope for the students and SPMS community? Were they achieved?
Over the past two years of the pandemic, we have seen students struggle in ways that were new to us. With virtual learning and pandemic restrictions, we weren’t able to create a sense of community in our schools as we have in the past. I have always been extremely proud of the way we work together as a community at Sage Park. There is an overwhelming feeling that all of the students that walk through our doors are all of our students, whether they sit in your classroom or not. My hope was that the SEL day would foster that sense of community for both students and staff. I feel like we did a great job as a staff taking the first step in that work. This work is never-ending and always needs to remain a focus for educators and schools. I am excited to take the feedback provided by our staff and students and get started planning our next event.
In your opinion, what do you think today's students need to be successful in school?
Students today are learning in environments that I couldn't even dream of. Information is at their fingertips in an instant 24 hours a day. Although technology has brought amazing changes to our society, I also feel like it has hindered us as well. Sometimes the process of learning something new is long, challenging, and can take some time. Students need to know that we are here through those struggles and it is through those mistakes that the real growth takes place.
If you were asked by educators, community members, families, etc. why should SEL matter to us, what would you say to them?
Middle School students are at an amazing time in their life where the relationships they have are one of the most important, if not THE most important thing to them. If we do not acknowledge that and help them navigate all that these peer relationships bring, they will not be accessible to learning in a way that they can truly be successful.
Which SEL competency is your strongest and why? (Relationships, Social Awareness, Self Awareness, Self management, and Responsible decision making.
I like to see myself as a work in progress when it comes to SEL. There have been times in my life when I have felt that each of those were areas of strength and needed growth. At this stage of my life, I would like to think that relationships are my strongest competency. I work very hard on the relationships in my life, both in school and in my personal life. I want to be sure that I am someone that others can count on and go to when they need support.
Please provide any final thoughts or words of encouragement you may have.
I am extremely grateful to work with colleagues who are committed to supporting students both academically and emotionally. They make me a better educator every day.
Every Windsor Public School has an SEL Specialist. If you want to learn more about how to bring SEL into your home or classroom please contact our SEL Coordinator, Dr. Michael Mallery Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org