Each February, we recognize Black History Month as a way to honor the achievements and history of African Americans. Throughout the month, there are valuable opportunities to center social and emotional learning, especially through the lens of equity. But as February draws to a close, it’s essential to continue promoting and embedding equity in education year-round.
Systemic racism impacts all areas of our society, including education, where the opportunity gap between white students and students of color continues to grow — especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. It’s crucial to reflect on these gaps and inequitable practices that have long plagued schools, from racist dress codes to disproportionate suspension rates, and work toward better supporting all students.
Equity is an important part of SEL, and it’s embedded in each of the five competencies. In fact, last year, Dallas ISD redefined the competencies to highlight an equity focus:
- When it comes to responsible decision-making, the ability to identify problems and inequities can help us make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions.
- Strengthening social-awareness skills is all about empathizing with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Understanding the areas of inequity that exist can help all of us take the perspective of others and appreciate differences.
- Furthering cultural competency through relationship skills promotes the ability to create learning environments that are more inclusive and equitable. These skills can also help us better navigate cultural differences
- Growing self-management skills, or the ability to successfully regulate one’s own emotions, thoughts and behaviors in different situations, can help us better set collective goals and find solutions in difficult situations.
- Developing strong self-awareness skills can help youth and adults alike better reflect on their own identities and understand any biases that may be furthering inequity.
To help further connect SEL and Black History Month, Dallas ISD’s Racial Equity Office and its Social Emotional Learning Department have created SEL lesson plans for both elementary (Pre-K-5) teachers and secondary teachers (6-12). You can access all resources and information here.
The journey toward equity continues. Let’s keep it moving forward.
Check out these resources for more on equity and SEL: