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Research Discussion: Retooling Hidden Norms to Revitalize the Potential of Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

3MT Featured Home Graduate Education Week Health & Wellness Inclusive Excellence Individual Development Plan (IDP) PostDoc Association Professional Development Upcoming Events November 16, 2021 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM




220 Townsend Hall
Columbia, MO 65203
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Phone Number: (573) 882-0511

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Retooling Hidden Norms to Revitalize the Potential of Social Emotional Learning Curriculum by Dr. Chynna McCall (she/her)

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Current social-emotional learning (SEL) continues to perpetuate systems of oppression and fails to meet the needs of our minoritized student populations (Black/indigenous/people of color, LGBTQ+, dis/abled, immigrant, etc.). Our SEL curricula are inadvertently a part of the institutional forms of discrimination through promoting the social arrangements and belief systems that sustain them. Students have been underserved through our current systems of social-emotional learning. We must shift the focus of SEL from “fixing” the deficits of individual students to focusing on the social contexts and social systems that affect the entire classroom, school, and community. Current SEL curricula largely reflect White, middle class, American beliefs, and values, perpetuating the negative social arrangements of disenfranchisement and marginalization. There is significant need to reframe SEL curriculum development to remove this majority influence and encourage school stakeholders to challenge existing social inequities. SEL curricula remain great vehicles to support student success and have the potential to create equitable school environments, but we must uncouple SEL curricula from White, American, middle-class values and beliefs if we are to ensure they do so for all students. There has been a call for over a decade to examine the sustainability of SEL programs, policies, and community partnerships, and yet there remains a large need in this area, especially when it comes to culturally responsive SEL and moving it from research to practice. Making modifications to current curricula and shifting the emphasis of SEL to no longer promoting and maintaining systems of oppression can allow SEL curricula to better reach their intended goals.

Chynna earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. She has been a School Psychologist in Colorado working with preschool-12th grade students. During her time in Colorado, she worked on improving school climates to help promote student identity development. Her research focuses on the creation of a school environment that facilitates prosocial student identity development. Her work investigates the influence the school environment has on a student’s identity development, identify expression (e.g., racial identity, gender identity, sexuality, and intersectionality), and internal and external behaviors. Her examination of this area also emphasizes the affect implicit bias and the resulting stereotyping behavior (by school staff and faculty as well as other students) has on a student’s identity development and resulting internal and external behaviors. She was recently funded to develop, and pilot test an Equity-Focused Social Emotional Learning curriculum for 3–5th grade students.

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