social/emotional learning impact on academic learning

Questions or discussion about Kagan theory, research, or implementing Kagan in your classroom.

social/emotional learning impact on academic learning

Post by LMG » Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:20 pm

Just a question...I have used cooperative learning structures over the years with good success; I had a sense of pride in how engaged my students were, how organized my classes were and how learning was occuring. What always struck me when I observed some of my colleagues attempting to implement cooperative learning structures, was that many struggled with the management of behaviour still. The activities were well planned, many students loved working in groups and over time, became more comfortable, however, discipline by the teacher was still so very necessary. Some of us had less challenge with this and others struggled to a great degree no matter how interesting and engaging the group work appeared.

What was missing came to me late in my career. It was the social/emotional underlying needs of students. It was human development understandings such as the "fright or flight phenomena" was still the need for building deeper relationships between students so that there was empathy, respect, boundaries of self-discipline. I found "Tribes Learning Communities"..a PROCESS for building those foundational inclusive behaviours. Once I began to utilize the Tribes Process coupled with Spencer Kagan's Cooperative Learning Structures, my students not only became engaged, but were being systematically and implicitly immersed in social community building and discipline became part of their own personal development. My colleagues, who also began to utilize the Tribes Process and Cooperative Learning Structures, began to be more successful as teachers than simply utilizing cooperative learning structures.

If interested, please look to Dr Barrie Bennett's (U or Toronto, OISE) work on Beyond Cooperative Learning. What are your thoughts on including the social/emotional foundation of TLC with Cooperative Learning Structures?

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Re: social/emotional learning impact on academic learning

Post by rickduvall » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:44 am

You are absolutely correct that classroom management, social skills, and emotional safety are essential for cooperative learning to be successful in a classroom. While the cooperative learning structures are often the most visible aspect of cooperative learning easily seen in CL classrooms, there are seven keys to cooperative learning success (with "Structures" being just one of the seven components). You are so wise to incorporate what you've learned from Tribes training into the cooperative learning classroom!

Classroom management, social skills, and emotional safety are so vital, in fact, that Dr. Kagan has included them in the seven keys for success in cooperative learning (see Chapter 5 in your Kagan Cooperative Learning text) as well as multiple chapters in the text with tons of ideas for nurturing and strengthening each of these components in our classrooms. In the text, Dr. Kagan and Miguel Kagan provide a nice overview of social skills and character virtues on pp. 5.8 and 5.9, and devote an entire chapter (Chapter 11) on research-based ways to embed, foster, refine, and expand social skills while still addressing curricular standards in our classrooms. Chapter 9 in the text is devoted to ways to provide mutual support among all students in a class while creating a positive context for learning through Classbuilding, and Chapter 10 is devoted to strategies for helping different students come to know, trust, and respect their teammates through Teambuilding. Through Classbuilding and Teambuilding, students develop the emotional safety to cooperative more willingly and effectively with one another. I would suggest that your colleagues examine those chapters, as I'm sure they will get additional ideas to add to the Tribes ideas that they're embracing. I would also suggest that they read Chapter 8 which is devoted to effective cooperative classroom management techniques. I think this will help them, also. Thanks again for supporting your colleagues! All educators need powerful mentors like you!