Building SEL at Vernon Middle School

At Vernon Middle School on the US-Mexico border in Harlingen, Texas, all teachers, staff and students benefit from EduGuide’s blended online program and professional development activities. And they’re getting results.

The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District put together this video to inform their school board, community and other school leaders about how their EduGuide program is changing mindsets and building social emotional skills during the 2016-17 school year.

EduGuide works with a variety of group sizes and fits into practically any class and grade level, from fourth grade through college. At Vernon, they’re using the program schoolwide as part of their English Language Arts curriculum, finding the program helps them meet state ELA requirements for critical thinking and creative writing around multimedia and informational texts.

Once a week, Vernon’s English teachers engage students in EduGuide’s online activities and offline discussions for 15-45 minutes. Later, teachers and staff respond to students’ online writing with brief encouragement, building bonds and a sense of belonging for student success. “I like how it lets your teachers know your goals, and helps you point out what you want in life, like your goals and stuff,” Samantha, an 8th grader, says in the video. Over time, students such as Samantha grow confidence, goal-setting, self-regulation and other social emotional skills.

“I can tell you that there’s a lot of writing involved,” 7th grade ELA teacher Esmerelda Valdez explains. “So I like it because they get an opportunity to write. And we’re not grading their grammar, we’re not grading their sentence structure, it’s just basically an opportunity for them to respond to a question. So, as a teacher, I like that they’re getting that opportunity.”

But students aren’t writing about just anything with EduGuide; they’re focusing on the mindsets, skills, habits and strategies that research shows will make them more successful not just in school, but in all aspects of life.

“The point is, it’s getting them to think,” says 8th grade ELA teacher Christina Torres. “It’s getting them to think about goals, it’s getting them to think about how they can help others, it’s getting them to think about how they can be a positive light, and the people around them.”

Adrian, an 8th grader, agrees with his teacher. “I like how it motivates the students, and my classmates, to reach their goals and really strive for the things they want in life…It helps me think about my goals and how I can reach them, and bad habits — how I can throw those away and get back into the good habits, and help my overall personality and my growth as a student.”

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