Le Sueur News Herald:

Tri-City United Public School officials proposed implementing a social and emotional learning curriculum district-wide Monday night.

The proposal was part of a six-year-rotation curriculum review for counselors and was presented to the school board along with a review of the career and technical education curriculum.

Teaching and Learning Instructor Matt Flugum and TCU High School Counselor Emily Erwin gave the presentation about social and emotional learning.

“This was a less-traditional review,” Flugum said.

Erwin said that their interest in the social and emotional curriculum was due to the program’s focus “on the whole child, not just the academics.”

There are five main areas that social and emotional learning (SEL) focuses on. The first one is self-awareness or “the ability to identify our own feelings, as well as how our feelings and thoughts influence what we do.”

The second area is self-management or “the ability to manage our feelings, thoughts and behaviors in a variety of contexts.” Third is social awareness or “the ability to understand and empathize with others’ points of view.”

The fourth is relationship skills or “the ability to communicate and connect with a range of people in a healthy way.” And finally, the fifth area is responsible decision-making or “the ability to make positive choices about how we behave.”

Though the district hasn’t implemented these ideals yet, Flugum and Erwin found that many of the teachers and staff already do things that focus on these areas, but they didn’t have the same language for it.

“Many of the teachers already do this, they just need the language for it,” Erwin said.

In their review, Erwin and Flugum found both strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum. Some of the strengths included the teachers already value social and emotional learning and are committed to building student relationships and the curriculum fits with the district’s Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) structures.

Some of the gaps included the lack of a common language and the lack of strategy supports and guidance for teachers.

In order to fix these gaps, Erwin and Flugum suggest that the district develop resources for teachers including possible activities and give teacher time for professional development around social and emotional learning.

The two proposed a minimal cost to implement these changes, including only some summer curriculum writing, which would come to around $680.

“We want to make social and emotional learning an intentional part of the day,” Flugum said.

Erwin said that, in the long-term, they would hope that all teachers within the district would have “some knowledge of each category,” but there would be no need to certify every teacher in the district in the curriculum.

Flugum also presented the career and technical education (CTE) curriculum review.

The CTE program at the school is designed to provide students with experience-based opportunities to prepare them for a variety of career fields.

Some of the strengths of the program included project-based and experiential learning structures that allow for hands-on experiences and multiple opportunities for students to explore different careers.

Some other gaps in the curriculum were the lack of pathways for student planning, the lack of using a personal learning plan and a need for more technology use. Some changes have already been made to the CTE program, including the hiring of Corrie Odlund as the workforce development coordinator and elective class changes approved by the board earlier this year, which was one of the gaps that Flugum noted in his review.

The elective class changes will give students more flexibility to pursue and develop their chosen career paths, but Flugum said there is still a need to “continue the development of some courses and update the resources available to students.”

In the name of improving those courses and resources, Flugum has asked the board for a total of $32,100, most of which will go towards resource subscriptions for the next six years.

The TCU School Board will not make a decision on either of these curriculum changes until the next board meeting in May.



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