Social Emotional Learning and why it Matters

As have been noted on this blog several times, to do Common Core well, we have to attend to the Social and Emotional Learning of our students. The science behind why this matters and how it is intertwined in a child’s success is addressed in the following presentation by Dr. Martin Seligman. Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center, explains the importance of PERMA with connections to how to teach it at the individual level. Specific minutes have been marked in the annotations below. (The video presentation is here.)

5:56 What is PERMA? Seligman quickly reviews the five parts and notes that each is measurable and each is teachable.

11:13 Positive Emotion (Happiness): The ratio of positive words to negative words in flourishing companies is 2.9:1. In marriage that ratio is 5:1. The ratio for children? no one knows.

13:50 Engagement

17:48 Relationships: How do you resolve conflict versus how do you celebrate success? Knowing how to differentiate one from the other can boost well-being.

20:28 Meaning: altruism versus pleasure. If you are trying to promote meaning in your classroom, consider doing the following. Ask students to do something fun during the course of the week. Likewise, ask them to do something philanthropic.

At the end of the week, have your students journal about the experiences. More often than not, they will describe having gotten more meaning from the altruistic exercise than the one for self-pleasure.

21:56 Accomplishment: self discipline and grit. Twice as important as IQ

25:07 In schools where teachers learn about PERMA and incorporate into their classrooms, students have greater psychological fitness and report less anxiety—and the work is sustainable to up to two years.

About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at
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