Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

At Porter Academy, we believe that Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is critical for all students. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL is "the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively". A variety of research has linked social-emotional learning not only to social and emotional development, but also to physical health, citizenship, motivation to achieve, and academic learning. It is vital for schools and families to work together to teach children the skills they need to succeed socially and emotionally. Poor social-emotional skills have been shown to lead to mental illness (e.g., depression, anxiety) and behavior problems, both of which negatively impact learning.

At Porter Academy, we want our students to have strong social-emotional skills so they

  • Are self-aware. They are able to recognize their emotions, describe their interests and values, and accurately assess their strengths. They have a well-grounded sense of self-confidence and hope for the future.
  • Are able to regulate their emotions. They are able to manage stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles. They can set and monitor progress toward the achievement of personal and academic goals and express their emotions appropriately in a wide range of situations.
  • Are socially aware. They are able to take the perspective of and empathize with others and recognize and appreciate individual and group similarities and differences. They are able to seek out and appropriately use family, school, and community resources.
  • Have good relationship abilities. They can establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation. They resist inappropriate social pressure; constructively prevent, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflict; and seek and provide help when needed.
  • Make responsible decisions at school, at home, and in the community. In making decisions, they consider ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and the likely consequences of various courses of action. They apply these decision-making skills in academic and social situations and are motivated to contribute to the well-being of their schools and communities.

Social Decision Making/Problem Solving Program

Porter Academy utilizes a curriculum called "Social Decision Making/Problem Solving Program" as our formal Social-Emotional Learning curriculum. This program covers approximately 30 topics each year and is designed to develop self-control, social awareness, and effective decision-making skills. Each homeroom at Porter Academy will be taught lessons on their developmental level. As our philosophy extends to a home partnership, this curriculum includes take-home activities and supplementary books for parents. Research on this program demonstrated significant improvements in academic performance, increased positive social behavior, reduced emotional distress, reduced conduct problems, and improved academic behaviors.

Intentional Character Education

In addition to the Social Decision Making/Problem Solving Program, we select seven character traits to emphasize throughout the year. Through discussion and activities, students gain a better understanding of the meaning and importance of these character traits. Our 2017-2018 character traits include

  • September: Respect - I am important, and so are you!
  • October: Self-Control - I control what I do and say.
  • November/December: Kindness - I will choose to help people feel good.
  • January: Patience - I will stay calm while I wait.
  • February: Gratefulness - I appreciate what I have.
  • March: Responsibility: I will do what is right, even when I don't feel like it.
  • April: Perseverance - I will do my best, even when things get tough.

Motivational Techniques

We understand the importance of student engagement and intrinsic motivation to the learning process. Research has demonstrated that people better process and retain information from an experience if they’re emotionally engaged with the activity. Also, developing an enjoyment of learning will lead to a life-long internal drive to seek out new information and take responsibility for one's own cognitive and developmental growth.

Our program includes techniques developed by Claudia Porter that have proven highly effective in building both self-esteem and intrinsic motivation. Teachers present challenges in a fun way and provide immediate positive feedback to students to encourage hard work and confidence. Additionally, we develop academic skills through engaging games and activities so as to more fully engage the students in the learning process. We encourage teamwork rather than competition, a sense of personal responsibility, and pride in excellence. We expect our students to work hard and achieve in accordance with their abilities.

Classroom Rewards

Homeroom teachers provide positive reinforcement to students individually as well as to the group as a whole.

Individually, students earn pennies or other tokens when they are working hard, participating, helping classmates, cleaning up, or generally doing what is expected. The staff works hard to “catch students doing the right thing” and acknowledge and reward them immediately. As students collect the tokens, they can see their jar getting fuller each time they make a good choice. The students then use the tokens at the school store which is held every two weeks.

Collectively, the homeroom group is also rewarded when they cooperate, collaborate, and support each other. When a specified number of team tokens are earned, the class votes on a reward. The reward can be a pajama day, movie and popcorn, sundae party, costume day, science experiment day, extra recess, or other activity voted on by the class and teachers.

This consistent positive reinforcement that students receive throughout each day supports the development of positive feelings about themselves and about school. And of course when people feel good about themselves and good about what they’re doing, they work harder and learn more efficiently.

Safari Bucks

To support the home-school connection, Claudia Porter developed a program that acknowledges and rewards our students for doing activities at home that are beneficial for their learning and development. This program is called Safari Bucks and has proven to be very successful. Students record all the time they spend reading, doing math, or other beneficial activities which are counted as "Safari Minutes". At the end of each month, students add up what they logged, receive a star on their certificate (color of the star reflects the number of minutes logged), and are awarded one Safari Buck for every one hundred Safari Minutes logged. The parents' job is to replace those Safari Bucks with real money. Many students save up their Safari Bucks for something they'd really like. This acts as a great incentive as well as developing the important emotional skill of delaying gratification.

In addition to the monthly distribution of Safari Bucks and Certificates, students who earn a sufficient number of gold stars (four by December to attend the Gold Star Luncheon or seven by May to attend the Seven Star Luncheon), get to attend a special luncheon. Students who earn the right to attend the Seven-Star Luncheon also receive a student-designed teacher and a gold medal.

Fantastic Fridays

We value each student's individuality. One way we celebrate this is through our Fantastic Friday program. Each student has one day set aside for them to plan an activity for their class that centers around their personal interests and strengths. The teacher will work with the student to figure out what preparations/materials are needed to conduct the activity. The students feel excited and proud to be in charge of the planning and to be able to share their passions with their classmates.

Citizenship Awards and School Assemblies

We hold monthly assemblies to support our character education program. During these assemblies, some students are awarded Citizenship Awards for displaying good citizenship/character (e.g., perseverance, showing respect, being helpful to a friend). Every student will receive at least one Citizenship Award each year, and the students do a wonderful job of cheering on their friends when they earn an award. A classroom challenge is also presented at each assembly. These have included building a scarecrowm, decorating a "springtime" umbrella, and decorating doors to reflect various themes. These are fun challenges that develop collaboration skills. These are fun events that support a positive school climate.

What Sets Us Apart

  • Developmentally Grouped Homerooms
  • Differentiated and Individualized Academic Instruction
  • Utilization of a Variety of Well-Supported Academic Programs and Multi-Sensory Instruction
  • Small Groups for Core Academics
  • Group Speech-Language, Occupational, and Music Therapy for all

Have A Question?

Our helpful team is happy to answer any questions you have about our programs and facility.

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