Social skills are an area that has been so neglected in the speech language field, and something that I incorporate with all of my students–even those who don’t have a social or emotional goal.
Our high-poverty, rural district serves 9,600 students across 13 schools. I work with students in pre-K through high school, including those in alternative school placements and those with emotional behavior disorders. It’s never easy finding social skills materials for these students.
After learning about Everyday Speech, I started using the social emotional learning (SEL) platform with my students diagnosed with a social skills delay or disorder. I quickly realized how beneficial it could be for all of my students. I also saw how useful it could be not only for speech-language pathologists but also for general education teachers.
Here’s how we get the most out of the platform:
Reinforce concepts with individual students. I recently worked with a student who liked to own the conversation and didn’t give others much of a chance to speak. As he’d interact with other kids, they’d drift away, and he didn’t understand why. We talked about the videos on conversation skills and how to keep other people engaged, and we reviewed these skills with the worksheet activities. As he continued to practice these skills, I saw a change. He began allowing other people to talk and he began asking questions that drew his peers into the conversation.
Taking the guesswork out of teaching SEL skills. The platform includes premade lesson bundles that walk teachers through a skill from beginning to end. They provide the backbone and the tutorials provide additional guidance. A collection of interactive online games provides additional opportunities for students to master the social skills shown in the video lessons. Games can be used for cooperative or team-based play, or for individualized learning. They can also be used as a review activity to provide an engaging way to work on targeted skills while practicing real-world social interaction.
Foster carryover and generalization of skills to different contexts. I often see students trying to use the skills we talk about while using the SEL platform. They check their emotional status before they start talking to peers. They can carry on conversations and interact appropriately with each other. I even see them using terms from the curriculum, like the Relationship Ruler. They really latched onto that idea and they spontaneously use it when interacting with their peers.
Incorporate an often-neglected learning objective. I wish I had the social learning platform way back when. It’s definitely something anyone can benefit from. If you’re going to be around other people, you’ve got to develop social skills, and this is a fun way to do it. This program offers total support, whether you have five minutes, an hour, or any amount of time in between to invest. There’s no way I can explain everything the platform does. I like to tell people to just try it.
Apply it to “real life” school situations. A friend of one of my students (a high-functioning child with a moderate intellectual disability) got into a physical fight on campus. We made it into a topic of discussion and used the platform as a basis of that discussion. My student’s comments at the beginning of the session were in total agreement with how the two fighting students behaved. By the time we had talked about the size of the problem, how to communicate effectively about the problem, and the potential solutions to the problem, my student had come up with some different solutions on his own. This is yet another example of how we, as instructors, can leverage technology to enhance the social emotional learning component.