Competency, in its simplest form, means suitability.
In its most aggressive form it means to do something successfully and efficiently. These are important words and even more important distinctions. There is a lot of buzz out there about Social Emotional Learning (SEL). There is equal buzz centered on behavioral programming such as drop-out prevention, school safety, and anti-bullying. While we can all agree that it is certainly suitable for our students to develop social and emotional maturity, to stay in school until graduation, to learn in a safe environment, and to do so free from being harassment-- how successful and efficient have we been?
It is important to understand the functional and core competencies of any program that claims to impact the development of your students. The reason I am breaking competencies into functionality and core is because the mechanisms for teaching the core competencies need to change with the learning aptitude, capacity, and environment of your students.
Leaps is the Social Emotional Learning resource that is used by educators across many states. I think it is important that such programming be able to demonstrate and describe its competencies so below please find the Social Emotional Competencies for Leaps.
Leaps Functional Competencies
Leaps addresses skills necessary for integration into and success within social, familial, and educational environments as well as vocational environments for our older students. The focus and need of assimilative skills changes as the student matures, and therefore programming must change to meet the learning and application needs of the student. Much like the “Piaget Stages of Cognitive Development” model, Leaps recognizes the learning and assimilation aptitude is different for students based on their age, maturity level, health, and family environment. This means that Leaps focuses its functional competencies within 3 specific modalities of learning and application.
Beginners | Functional Levels: Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
Much like Piaget’s pre-operational phase, Leaps Beginner’s lessons are targeted to those students who are beginning the academic process and, in many ways, beginning social development. Because thought processes are still developing and problem identification and solving is rudimentary, Leaps lessons utilize a “vicarious learning” model. This means there are stories with readily identifiable protagonists and antagonists who are participating in socialized situations who must make decisions based upon impact to self, others, and consequences. This process introduces cause and effect as well as specific social and emotional options and choices through the vicarious model. This affords an opportunity for the instructor to correlate the lesson learned by the protagonist to the student and help them begin to understand the process of self-accountability and emotional and affective stability.
Lower Maturity and Independence (LMI) | Functional Levels: Grades 3-6
Much like the “concrete operations” stage, Leaps’ LMI lessons take into account that the student is now positioned to think and act more in a more self-reliant manner, but they are not yet in a position in life to apply their thoughts and actions independently. Due to age or functioning levels, LMI students reside within supervised and overseen life-stages. They are not yet mature enough to allow for a fully independent social life. Since the student is constantly supervised, they have a different accountability set and therefore a different focus of learning than independent students. Because of this, Leaps’ LMI lessons have an “authority affirmation” format. This means that lessons help the student develop within the framework of their life station, and prompt and encourage them to grow towards independence within the authority format of being you and non-independent.
Higher Maturity and Independence (HMI) | Functional Levels: Grades 7-12
Like “formal Operations” stage, Leaps HMI lessons focus on the fact that these students have a significant degree of independence and therefore a different accountability set than younger students. Because of this independence, these students must be able to identify problems, think both logically and abstractly, organize their thoughts into problem solutions, and then communicate both their intended as well as their perceived role in the problem. Students within this age group are also expected to be able to prevent problems by identifying and avoiding risks. Because of this, Leaps HMI lessons are designed in a “peer affirmation” format. This means that these students must make choices without a reliance on an overseer and must enact their choices with a realization of personal and peer accountability.
Leaps Core Competencies
Leaps’ functional competencies insure that programming is suitable to the student based on age, functioning level, and life circumstance. Leaps’ core competencies provide a focus that allows for successful and efficient social emotional development, which then leads to behavior prevention and change. Leaps’ core competencies are based within the skills necessary for integration into and success within social, educational, and familial settings based upon the student.
Social Emotional Learning is predicated upon the ability of the student to learn, synthesize, and apply social and emotional skills. These skills can be broken into:
Basic Living Skills: the skills necessary for compliance with and integration into everyday activities. The results of using these skills,as well as the consequences of not having these skills, are consistent and immediate. Leaps core competencies within Basic Living Skills are:
- School Rules – a set of lessons designed to instruct the student on the rules and consequences of being a student
- Hygiene – lessons that teach the process of good hygiene and the social repercussions of poor hygiene
- Managing Time and Attention – lessons that focus on the need for managing time, distractions, duties, assignments, and self
Communication and Integration Skills: the skills necessary for both societal and social integration. These skills require interaction, introspection, and self accountability. Leaps core competencies with Communication and Integrations Skills are:
- Friends – lessons on what a friend is, how a friend is made, the accountability and expectation of friendship, and the role friends play within family and school environments
- Respecting Myself and Others – lessons on self understanding and respect, peer understanding and respect, group understanding and respect, as well as thematic respect such as cultural, language, and property
- Communication and Presentation – lessons on how to communicate verbally, non-verbally, affectively, from a self-presentation standpoint, and through listening and understanding others
- Social Life – lessons that focus on the process of social accountability, options, interactions, and opportunities
Clinical and Emotional Skills: the skills necessary for composure as well as control. Leaps core competencies within Clinical and Emotional Skills are:
- Self Control & Confidence (Beginners) – lessons specific to a new learner being in a socialized and learning focused environment. These lessons focus on control within transitions, patience, instruction, and accountability
- Emotions and Actions (Beginners) – lessons designed to introduce emotional concepts to our youngest learners and help them understand how their emotions can impact their ability to make and maintain relationships, function in the classroom, and control their own feelings, words, and actions
- Stress & Anxiety – lessons that help students identify and understand stressful events and how they can deal with those events. These lessons focus on both the understanding of and dealing with stressing situations and the ability to mitigate the impact and effect of stress
- Anger and Emotional Management – lessons designed to help students identify anger and emotional triggers, then deal with anger and other emotions in a healthy and productive manner-- focus on both the identification and prevention of anger-inducing incidents and, further, dealing with the impact and effect of anger.
- Decisions and Consequences – lessons designed specifically to help students identify problems, understand and enact the problem solving process, and understand and accept consequences.
Within these functional and core competency areas, Leaps addresses 44 Beginner skills, 89 LMI skills, and 109 HMI skills.
This ability to differentiate between both functional and core competencies and then deliver lessons based on assessed need gives Leaps the ability to format a growth and improvement plan for the student, fulfill that plan with content, measure the impact of the content, and then through strong data report both fidelity and progress. In short, Leaps competencies are significant and Leaps itself is an extremely competent Social Emotional Learning and Development resource.
To request a demo or download some of our sample plans, head over to www.SELforSchools.com.