There are plenty of social emotional programs offering districts help, but Bellevue is sticking with one to make sure that it is put into practice carefully, with the right training for teachers.
Schools increasingly are looking for ways to help their students grow socially and emotionally as well as intellectually — and there’s no shortage of programs out there to lend a hand.
But the district was approached by other great programs, too, said Michelle Proulx, Bellevue’s former curriculum developer for social and emotional learning.
“What traditionally happens,” she said, “is people just keeping saying yes, yes, yes and you end up with 14 programs in the district that can’t be supported.”
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That’s why Bellevue stuck to just one, saying no to the rest so it could focus on getting RULER right.
To help with that, it is working with researchers from the University of Washington to study how well RULER is rolled out, and make adjustments when needed.
The UW researchers are part of the 3DL Partnership, a joint effort between the UW’s College of Education and the School of Social Work. The partnership doesn’t endorse any particular approach, but helps make sure that whatever a district chooses is well implemented, said Todd Herrenkohl, the partnership’s co-director. If districts don’t follow through on training, for example, that could derail plans that look great on paper.
In Bellevue, for example, some teachers needed more time to get comfortable with RULER than others, so the district couldn’t just stick with a regimented schedule.
It didn’t help that the monthly training sessions were optional and unpaid.
“They were all expected to teach it in their classrooms, regardless if they came to training, which is a big obstacle,” said Proulx, who now works for 3DL.
Researchers surveyed the teachers and discovered that a majority said they would never attend optional training unless they were paid for their time and it was offered during the school day, Proulx said.
Researchers used that data to persuade the district to cover the expense.
“We offered training during the school day and we had waiting lists,” she said.