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Research Speaks: The Real Impact of SEL

Hear about astounding research with Valerie Shapiro, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley, as she presents findings on the critical role of relational engagement in education. This talk dives into the science behind social-emotional learning (SEL) and its effect on students when implemented by relationally committed educators 40 YEARS ON! Gain insights into the evidence-based benefits of a robust SEL curriculum.


Research Speaks: The Real Impact of SEL

"You've asked what it would look like if 80% of teachers were really relationally engaged with kids. And I think, as a scientist, to say, I don't know, because I don't think we've observed that.

But I can tell you a lot about, you know, what happens , which, you know, now we often think about SEL, which is, is broader than social skills, and what happens when the teachers are supported. They're given very, you know, meaningful training in how to, you know, work through kids' behavior as it shows up in a classroom and what it means to foster a community.

Then, parents are given workshops that are all complimentary. Right? And,

and I've been fortunate to work on teams that have done amazing research that shows when you do those three things, we've been studying a cohort of kids that had that in the eighties, and they're in their forties now. And this is a little bit mind-blowing. Some of these kids were in the intervention condition, some of them were in the control condition, and there are no other differences between these kids, right?

And 40 years after the teachers got some training, the parents had some workshops and the kids had some social skills. You can see differences in these kids' mental health, these, these adult mental health when they're 40 years old, you can see differences. Um, and it's not only in their well-being, but you can also see differences in their economic status. I mean, you can look at these groups of kids, some that, some that got SEL interventions when they were in elementary school, some that didn't. And you can predict whether they own a house. And it was just this one year, just this, it, that's the power of these things. Their blood pressure is different as a 40-year-old because of what happens to them in fifth grade. And, um, that's some of the most amazing evidence that we have that supporting adults and giving kids skills at the same time can produce that kind of effect.

And if you really want me to blow your mind, um, they're 40, so they have kids, you can see differences in the behavior of their offspring based on whether they showed, based on which condition they were in. So it's so exciting that that evidence is there, that what you do in fifth grade, what you do with the adults and the kids, shows up in 40-year-olds and shows up in the next generation of kids doing things like changing health status, breaking cycles of poverty. And we can do it right now when the Washington State Legislature got some of this information about if they could do this in their schools, they decided not to build a prison. They decided to reallocate their budget and said, we can do this in the middle school years in elementary schools. It's gonna cost some money, but the return on investment means we won't start building a prison. And that's the evidence-based decision-making, but to think about that trade-off in the lives of humans, it's even more meaningful. So I wish we all made decisions like that."

-Valerie Shapiro, PhD


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