Lansing schools find success with Social Emotional Learning

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Social Emotional Learning programs (SEL) are popping up in schools across Michigan.

Students said SEL is the difference between chaos and keeping the peace.

“You can’t just get mad at someone and punch them in the face,” said Giselle Blue, a student at Eastern High School. “You need to calm down, resolve these issues one-on-one with that person, or deal with it on your own.”

Students in the Lansing Public School District had the chance to share with parents and educators why SEL is important to them Wednesday morning. They said it’s played a crucial role in helping them build good relationships and stay in the classroom.

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“I mean could you imagine a community where adults are not talking about things, understanding their emotions? It would just be really hectic and really crazy,” Blue said.

Students said SEL has taught them necessary skills, including keeping calm under pressure, handling intense emotions and being kind to others.

“Without SEL we wouldn’t have self-improvement, self-management. We wouldn’t be able to learn if we’re angry, wouldn’t be able to learn if we have anxiety,” said Ornella Nishimwe, a student at Attwood New Tech Magnet School. “SEL really helps focus on that.”

The lessons aren’t new. Most people spend their school years learning how to be a good listener or a reliable friend, but many still don’t know what SEL means.

Educators want to make sure they do.

“It’s important for the community to actually know what’s going on in the building, how we’re supporting students so that they know that we are giving them everything that we have in order for them to be successful,” said Atwood Principal Sharon Hampton-Madyue.

Some students use SEL as a tool to keep up their grades and others take these skills outside the classroom.

“I’m captain of the cheer team, so when we have those team moments, when we have conflict or anything like that, those SEL skills really come in handy when rebuilding those bonds and fixing any problems that we have,” Blue said.

Lansing school administrators said attendance numbers are up and conflict between students has stayed low. They credit SEL for that.

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