Professional Development

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Supporting SEL Efforts (and Academics) in Afterschool

Many afterschool and summer learning programs are implementing social and emotional learning initiatives, but not all afterschool professionals feel prepared to discuss SEL.

Finding resources that are simple to use and easily incorporated into your program structure isn't always easy. One resource that supports SEL concepts and could be easily added to out-of-school time (and classroom) environments is The Walking Classroom.

The Walking Classroom is a series of educational podcasts that kids listen to while they walk. To support SEL, The Walking Classroom podcasts each include a character value that is woven throughout the podcast narrative. These values include things such as caring, empathy, confidence, respect, perseverance, optimism and many more. The podcast lesson plans include discussion questions to guide educators in helping students better understand the character values and spark deeper conversations.

Photo courtesy of Laura Fenn.

A podcast about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for example, incorporates the character value "Courage," which Dr. King exemplified throughout his fight for civil rights. The discussions following the podcast touch on why it's important to stand up for what we believe in—even if our views are unpopular—as well as how standing up for what we believe in defines us, builds self-confidence and shows courage.

But that's not all walking while listening and learning does. Educators report that after The Walking Classroom lessons, kids are simply happier, calmer and more focused.

"Whenever I am stressed, it calms me down to walk and listen to the podcast," said sixth-grader Josiah.

The program builds self-confidence because it presents information in a way that addresses different learning styles, so kids who struggle academically can often catch up to their peers.

"The [Walk]kits have brought so much excitement to the camp this summer and the youth are very appreciative," said Cornelia McGee, President, Tillery Spectrum Connections. "Not only is the information in the podcasts educational, but it is interesting and relevant to situations they are familiar with in everyday life."

Learn more about how The Walking Classroom actively engages students.

Written by Lee Ann Obringer, Communications Director for The Walking Classroom

Courtesy of The Walking Classroom.

Main photo courtesy of Laura Henderson.