Social Engagement in the TCS Atlanta Classroom

For the past year a group of TCS faculty members have participated in SEE-KS training, a two-year program developed by social emotional engagement expert Emily Rubin and others at the Marcus Autism Center. SEE-KS stands for Social Emotional Engagement – Knowledge and Skills and the objective is to help us, as teachers, increase student engagement within our classrooms.

SEE-KS Training
Our training began with a crash course in neuroscience, to help us better understand how human brains are typically wired from infancy to seek out social connections and that those connections stimulate learning. In small groups, we explored what social engagement looks like within the classroom in three specific areas: investment, independence and initiation. What does it look like when a student is interested and motivated to learn? What opportunities have we created for students to access materials or solve problems independently? How often do students have a chance to initiate actions and responses?

SEE-KS Coaching Process
Each faculty member was recorded teaching a lesson or leading an activity, then the SEE-KS trainers led us through the coaching process. By examining brief snippets of each video, we identified what the teacher was doing that was already working. I think each participant was pleasantly surprised to have colleagues name so many ways he or she was already fostering student engagement. The beauty of the coaching session is that it is truly a collaborative conversation among talented and creative peers. The ideas and solutions that are generated are practical and simple to implement. To sustain student engagement during a read-aloud in the library, for example, I might have each student listen for specific new vocabulary words. I can offer more opportunities for students to initiate a response by doing a quick thumbs-up/down check-in during a read-aloud, or start with a turn-and-talk activity to boost social engagement and emotional investment in a story. Other teachers have created visuals to help students follow classroom routines or the steps of an activity, incorporated timers or offered different learning materials.

The SEE-KS training aligns seamlessly with our Responsive Classroom approach, as well. TCS has always focused on social-emotional engagement, which is evident in the fact that most of our students arrive each day eager and excited about what the day will bring. For teachers, SEE-KS is a wonderful opportunity to address part of our curriculum or classroom practice that may be engaging for most students and make it engaging for all.

Learn More About SEE-KS
Emily Rubin will be at TCS for a parent session on Feb. 22, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. in the gym. She’s going to talk about social and emotional learning in children. You can RSVP right here!

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