Integrating Social Emotional Curricula and the Common Core

“Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.” By Alice Miller


Tonight’s #21stedchat (On Twitter Sundays @ 8:00 PM EST US with @dprindle and I – @Edu_Thompson) is discussing Social Emotional Curriculum vs. Integrated Empathy. This is apart of what I refer to as ‘hidden curriculum’. To me there shouldn’t be a ‘verse’ between Social Emotional Curriculum/Integrated Empathy tonight but an ‘and’.

Developing students’ social and emotional skills helps schools/classrooms create safe learning environments that help increase academic achievement. I believe that empathy falls within social emotional curriculum and it should be integrated into the Common Core with a focus on 21st century skills so it is cohesive. Below are some suggestions on how you can integrate social and emotional curricula with Common Core standards. My ideas are based on the An Educational Leaders Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL, 2013)’ and Common Core.

  • Self-Awareness/Management: focuses on identifying and recognizing emotions; self-efficacy; control of oneself; self-motivation and discipline; goal setting; and organizational skills. Connection to Common Core:  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • Relationship Skills: encompasses communication; social engagement and relationship building; working cooperatively; negotiation; conflict management; and help seeking. Connection to Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • Responsible Decision Making: includes problem identification and problem solving; evaluation and reflection; personal, social, and ethical responsibility. Connection to Common Core: CCSS.Math.Practice.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Social Awareness: empathy; difference recognition; and respect for others. Connection to Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

There are many other Common Core Standards that these social and emotional basic skills can be integrated with. Many of these skills can also be taught and discussed within books, history and the arts. Below are more resources on this topic:

Social and emotional learning gaining new focus under Common Core

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Empathy

Empathy: the Key to Social and Emotional Learning

Teaching Social and Emotional Skills in Schools

CASEL website

I would to hear ways that you think social and emotional curricula should be integrated or how you have integrated it. Please share in the comments section

6 thoughts on “Integrating Social Emotional Curricula and the Common Core”

  1. I am not sure how to systematically teach social and emotional skills to students. My sense is that as a teacher, these are skills that we model for our students and are learned behaviors.

    I do know from my experiences helping students learn physics that a key ingredient of my success was to build relationships with my students, give them choices as to how they can learn physics, and listen to their needs as learners.

    It’s been said that students do not care about what we know, until they know that we care. I agree. We show we care by making opportunities to talk with our students and not merely at our students. We need to get to know our students which includes their interests, foibles, anxieties, and so on.

    That “getting to know your students” is all about employing social skills and empathy.
    It’s not enough as a teacher to care about our students. Teaching is about caring, but it’s also about sharing and daring too.

    A quote about caring that I like is … “push the ones you care about, thank the ones who care enough to push”. Students understand that statement when uttered by a coach or music or dance teacher. They do not always expect the same kind of push in academics.

    Knowing how to push students to do their best also requires social skills and empathy. As another great coach once said – “those who give their best have no regrets”. Our challenge as teachers is to push our students to do their best, but also to push ourselves.

    1. I agree with so much of what you said. I too feel that as special education teacher, we can urge the kids with the social skills intact, to help those that do not. However, as you implied it is a slippery slope. I try to model these skills with my special education and general education kids. Adults also need to be retaught this, especially with the “lock step” follow the EngageNY thinking we all have to tackle. Where is the empathy and social skill curricula on the module?

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