New framework seeks to embed social-emotional skills

Uncertainty, discomfort and challenges are an inevitable and essential part of being human. While we would love to remove all roadblocks from our children’s lives and our own, it is not possible. The alternative is to learn effective and growth-oriented skills that nurture our ability be with these experiences, open up to human emotion and not be governed by it, and to get in touch with what is personally important so that we are headed toward living life to its fullest.

For three years, the social and emotional guidance counsellors at Trinity College School have been working to develop a framework for the school community that is evidence-based in increasing emotional intelligence, coping skills and resiliency as well as to foster a culture of belonging and inclusivity.

Our Social Emotional and Relational Framework is an integration of best practices from world-renowned thought leaders and the most current and proven psychological and organizational research.

 Our framework includes four skills:

  • Be Present
  • Open Up
  • Do What Matters
  • Foster Belonging

The framework has been piloted with small groups of students, faculty and leadership over the last two years. Further, the framework is utilized in our counselling office, as it is a transdiagnostic and flexibly delivered approach representing a promising way to meet the various needs of students, including concerns, goal-setting and self-discovery.

This year, we have begun to roll out the framework to our faculty. As important role models, we believe it crucial that the adults in our community embed the skills in their professional practice. We launched this year with our faculty in our opening professional development week, introducing the skills, practicing them and then getting practical in working on how we would apply them to welcome our students back to this very different school year. We also reviewed and attempted to apply these skills in our discussion of our summer reading, So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo, which is our starting point to our commitment to end anti-Black racism at TCS. We will meet throughout the year as a whole faculty to practice these skills and faculty members will have an opportunity to dive deeper, should they choose, through workshops and coaching conversations. We will include our framework in our counselling, with student leaders, professional development and parent presentations/workshops.

We cannot think of a more important time for our community to be intentionally developing these skills. Right now, with so much out of our control, we all need to practice managing this new normal and the varying levels of discomfort. We are excited to come together as a community to commit to lifelong skill-development whereby children and adults begin to understand and manage emotions, cope with stress, increase motivation, feel and show empathy for others, build growth-oriented relationships, make responsible decisions and deepen one’s sense of self.

We look forward to discussing and sharing this framework with you, as parents, and we would love to know more about your thoughts and feedback as we work together throughout this unprecedented year.

- By Ms. Krista Koekkoek and Ms. Kerri Dunn, guidance department