Center Humanity, Honor Identity, Promote Healing & Cultivate Liberation: This Is Transformative SEL

We have talked quite a bit about SEL over the years. This #SELday, Sr. Director of Program Effectiveness, Nikki Roe Cropp, shares more about how we use SEL in our programs and why it is essential to the work we do.

Kids of all races smiling together after finding a turtle

We know that kids who have a certain set of competencies and skills are better able to navigate through challenging times and cope with adversity.  The process in which youth gain these necessary skills and competencies is called social-emotional learning or SEL.  Social-emotional learning is nothing new—teachers, counselors, coaches, and youth workers have been modeling and teaching social and emotional development strategies for a long time.  There are decades of research that illustrates the benefits of SEL for kids both in and out of the classroom.   SEL is infused into Camp Fire’s program framework, making it a cornerstone of the Camp Fire experience.     

SEL has changed over the years.  It was changing before the pandemic as folks implementing it started recognizing that this process of building social and emotional skills needs to be contextualized to different cultures, norms, and priorities. Just as regular teaching has evolved over the years to include more culturally responsive practices, so has SEL. And then during and after the pandemic and racial unrest in our country, SEL had to evolve again—as kids’ needs changed during that time.   

Transformative SEL was born in response to us finally acknowledging the disparities in education and opportunities based on a kid’s socioeconomic status, race, zip code, home language, disability status, and other factors. “Transformative SEL” is a form of SEL implementation where young people and adults build strong, respectful, and lasting relationships to engage in co-learning. It facilitates critical examination of individual and contextual factors that contribute to inequities and calls for collaborative solutions that lead to personal, community, and societal well-being.  It recognizes that youth can be a part of creating just environments now and for the future.  

Today’s young people are primed for Transformative SEL. Search Institute recently reported that youth are more invested today in caring, equality and social justice, cultural competence, and valuing diversity than they were in 2016.   

Graph to the right: Internal comparison of trends between 2020 and 2022 Attitudes & Behaviors Survey aggregate data 

Graph showing the increase in SEL competencies for young people since 2016. Caring: 58% to 67%, Equality & Social Justice: 60% - 73%, Cultural Competence: 45% - 59%, Valuing Diversity: 60% - 72%

We know that empathy and compassion are not enough to advance equity.  At Camp Fire, we employ practices and programming that center humanity, honor identity, promote healing and liberation, and build skills needed to act and advocate for social justice.   This is Transformative SEL in action!

Want to read more about SEL and Camp Fire? Check out Building Equity with Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

March 8, 2024

Related Posts