Principal’s Corner: Teaching students to be the nice kids

Published 6:41 pm Friday, March 29, 2019

Principal’s Corner by John Mahal

John Mahal


As you enter Hawthorne Elementary, you are greeted with an awesome quote that we at Hawthorne believe in — in short, be the nice kid! As important as it is to us that students walk through our door to receive a world-class education, we also believe that how well a person is able to adjust to his or her environment and is able to adapt or problem solve to change, that person will have a very good chance of being successful in life. There is quite a bit of research behind developing a strong social/emotional ability for students being critical for their development as it directly correlates to success and happiness in life.

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For many children, school is the only place where any deficiencies in these abilities can be addressed before they become active members of society. Combining these skills with academic development creates high-quality learning experiences and environments that empower students to be more effective contributors in their classrooms today and in their workplaces and communities tomorrow.

As I mentioned previously with our Second Step social/emotional curriculum (SEL) in elementary schools, the core SEL competencies include: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness. When students put all of this academic and SEL learning together, they improve their own attitudes and beliefs about themselves, others, school and the overall community. Students also typically have:

• Better academic performance — achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who do not receive SEL instruction.

• Fewer negative behaviors — there is decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts and disciplinary referrals.

• Reduced emotional distress — there are fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress and social withdrawal.

Hawthorne, along with the other Albert Lea Area elementary schools, is proud to provide SEL learning for our students as we know we are laying the foundation for hopefully productive and happy lives!

John Mahal is the principal of Hawthorne Elementary School.