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Social Emotional Learning: Teaching the Whole Child


At the heart of Buffalo Commons' mission is a commitment to educating the whole child. As The Learning Policy Institute defines it: “A ‘whole child’ education prioritizes the full scope of a child's developmental needs as a way to advance educational equity and ensure that every child reaches their fullest potential.” Buffalo Commons engages in this whole child approach by ensuring every child in our care experiences:

  • Research-based curricula in all subject areas

  • Teachers well-versed in supporting students with varying needs, including students in need of IEP and ENL supports

  • Multiple ways to show growth and understanding through project-based learning opportunities

  • A comprehensive, research-based Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum each and every day

What is SEL?


Social Emotional Learning, as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “...is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” At Buffalo Commons, we are adopting a SEL curriculum that has been awarded CASEL’s highest designation for quality SEL programming, CASEL SELect: Caring School Community.


Many schools endeavor to prioritize SEL, as it is a commonly-held belief that relationships and personal growth are incredibly important to establish and maintain a healthy and thriving school community. Unfortunately, many schools fall short by either not investing the necessary resources, or by not having a full understanding of what SEL truly is. At Buffalo Commons, we know that we cannot achieve our goal of creating a safe, nurturing and thriving school community without implementing a high-quality SEL curriculum, like Caring School Community (CSC), from day one.




What Makes Caring School Community Excellent?



Through a rigorous vetting process, Buffalo Commons chose Caring School Community, a program from The Center for the Collaborative Classroom, for a variety of reasons:

  • A focus on the whole community: this includes teachers, school leadership, outside vendors, and support staff. Everyone benefits from high-quality relationships and belonging to a community that values each and every person’s contributions.

  • An entire year’s-worth of easy-to-implement, student and teacher-friendly, developmentally-appropriate instructional materials. This also includes materials and expectations for school leadership.

  • A focus on creating environments that are: calm, orderly and equitable. Through the creation of consistent classroom management practices and systems, to the implementation of Caring School Community Discipline practices that assumes children can and want to meet school expectations, our SEL curriculum prioritizes creating classroom environments that set students up for success each and every day.


What Does SEL Look Like Throughout the Day?


In classrooms:

  • Starting and ending the day in a community circle/meeting, where staff and students build community, learn positive social skills and practices, and solve problems collaboratively.

  • Teachers and school staff reinforce the positive social skills and behaviors learned in circle throughout the day, as students work collaboratively in multiple settings.

In staff meetings:

  • Staff and school leadership prioritize the same themes of community, collaborative problem solving, and utilizing positive social skills and practices to maintain a healthy staff culture.

When a harm has occurred:

  • Teachers utilize the simple and clear steps outlined in the Caring School Community Discipline guidance to support students to meet classroom and school expectations. This includes reteaching skills as a whole class or individually, and creating tools to help each child do their best.

  • When greater support is needed, staff will maintain the perspective that behavioral mistakes are just that: mistakes, not character flaws or malicious attempts to disrupt the classroom environment. Staff guide students through the process of repairing and restoring any harm caused all while maintaining respect and care for students at all times, regardless of their mistakes.


We encourage you to take a minute and check out what SEL is all about, what makes Caring School Community excellent, and how going to a school that prioritizes teaching the whole child could benefit your child!


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