From Executive Director
Separate strands of research reveal the urgent need for educators to address the social-emotional dimension of teaching and learning (SEDTL) and culturally responsive teaching (CRT) in our efforts to close the educational opportunity gap. However, generally lacking is the discussion of the intersection between, and the dependence of SEDTL and CRT on one another to produce the best outcome for students. CRTWC staff excited about our current work to break down the two separate silos of SEDTL and CRT to bring them together into a combined SEDTL/CRT lens.
What if teacher preparation programs explicitly addressed both SEDTL and CRT and if teacher educators understood that these two must be addressed together if candidates entering the field are to be well-equipped to support their students? Since our mission in teacher preparation is to develop educators’ capacity to improve student academic outcomes and the ability of both teachers and students to thrive, it would seem essential to talk about the social-political and cultural contexts of students as they intersect with the social-emotional dimensions of teaching and learning.
We want to provide our children with a safe, empathetic school environment where all can take risks, make mistakes, and support one another in both their academic and social development. At CRTWC, we have focused our work on how to integrate, rather than add-on. While we have spearheaded modifications in teacher preparation courses and development of materials such as videos and written teaching cases to provide educators with practice using an SEDTL lens, we have much work to do in clearly establishing the connections between SEDTL and CRT and providing specific models of what this combined SEDTL/CRT lens looks like in practice.
As you know, research conducted in the past twelve years reveals the critical need to give the social-emotional dimensions of teaching and learning the same attention as pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment in our efforts to close the achievement gap in K-12 education. The intent of the Center for Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child (CRTWC) is to act on this research by focusing on integrating the combined SEDTL/CRT lens in the initial professional preparation of educators. Our mission is to develop educators’ capacity to use the SEDTL/CRT lens in their practice in order to improve student academic outcomes and the ability of both educators and students to thrive. Our vision is a world where the achievement gap among different groups of students within our region no longer exists, and where all children are supported to reach their full potential and participate constructively in our democracy. In this world, school climate and culture, and social-emotional skills essential to both educators and students, are routinely addressed in preK–12 schools; in the professional preparation of school professionals; and in the ongoing learning of professionals in the field of education.
The ways in which we are going about realizing our vision include:
- explicitly identifying the intersection between social-emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching;
- identifying high leverage practices that serve as “anchors” to the integration of SEDTL/CRT in the classroom;
- developing materials such as videos and written teaching cases to provide educators with tools to practice using an SEDTL/CRT lens; and
- studying the impact of our efforts to integrate SEDTL/CRT into teacher preparation curriculum.
We hope you will join us in this essential endeavor.
All the very best,
Nancy L. Markowitz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, San José State University Department of Teacher Education
Executive Director, Center for Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child (CRTWC)