How To Create Better Social-emotional Support For Girls Of Color
Effective social-emotional learning programming for girls of color is not a magical formula. It’s something that you can create and build yourself with a little help from the experts. To get started, here are seven suggestions for creating a supportive learning environment for your girls:
Define the Problem Girls Are Having
The problems that girls of color face are often different than the ones white girls face. In addition to sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination, girls of color are also more likely to be exposed to violence and trauma. They may experience difficulty in school because they have trouble with teachers or peers; these behaviors can lead to a feeling of isolation or depression.
A recent study found that African American girls have the highest rates of depression when compared with other groups, including Latinos/as and Asians/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). This could be attributed in part to their unique experiences as people from historically marginalized groups. Many times these experiences include being discriminated against by those who do not understand or value their culture or language—or worse yet, see them as a threat because they don’t fit into what society deems “normal” behavior for people who look like them.
Involve a Diversity of Expertise
It is important to get input from a variety of experts. This could include:
o Community members
Talk to your girls about the importance of creating a safe space at school. In this section, we will discuss how to create a safe space for students to talk about their emotions and experiences.
In order to create a comfortable environment for students, you should:
- Ask students what they feel is needed in order to feel comfortable and supported at school. Some suggestions might be having more diversity in the classroom or making sure teachers are aware of student needs. This can also include having healthy meals in the cafeteria or having a place where kids can go if they need help with homework (a social worker).
- Encourage open communication between parents and teachers so that you know more about your student’s home life and can better support them inside and outside of school. For example, if you know that one student comes from an abusive family situation, then maybe it would be helpful for you as an adult who cares about their well-being – even just as someone who interacts with them every day – not just ignore it but try talking with them about what’s going on so that they have someone besides their friends who understands what they’re going through.”
Talk with Girls
- Talk with girls.
- Ask them what they want to change. Ask them what they need to be successful. Ask them what they need to feel safe, included, and empowered.
Approach Social-Emotional Learning Methodically and Thoughtfully
- Don’t rush it. It’s tempting to want to jump right in, but consider taking your time and being thoughtful about how you approach social-emotional learning.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing something wrong the first time, so don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things if they seem like a good idea at the time!
- Ask for help if you need it – or just ask questions in general! If there is something that’s confusing about SEL methods, or if your student is struggling with any part of the process (e.g., creating a class book), feel free to reach out for support from other teachers who have experience working with young people on this important topic area.”
Make it Fun
- Use games and other interactive activities to make the learning experience engaging.
- Make it a learning experience, not just another class.
- Make it fun! The more students enjoy themselves, the more they want to come back and be part of the club. Try incorporating music into your sessions (even if you’re not musically inclined). How about some dancing? Games and activities are also great ways to teach while having fun together.
- Try making it a social experience by scheduling meetings at times when students can bring their friends along with them—and encourage them to do so! This will help increase their comfort level with participating in group activities, which is important for building positive self-esteem and confidence as well as providing support when needed.
- For girls who often feel unsafe at school or home due to violence, abuse, or neglect by others, foster an environment where everyone feels safe sharing personal experiences without consequences from teachers or peers (if you do this correctly!). If someone wants help but does not have anyone else available to talk with at home/work etc., let her know that she can always come to talk about whatever she needs support with here – our door is always open.”
Try new approaches to social-emotional learning with your students.
Read over this section and think about how you might implement these practices in your classroom.
- Reinforce the importance of social-emotional learning.
- Try new things to see what works best for your students. Don’t be afraid to experiment, fail, ask for help, or change your approach—you are not alone!
The goal of social-emotional learning is to allow girls to take ownership of their feelings, beliefs, and actions. Educators can help girls of color by making them aware of the biases they face every day, in school and out. By creating classroom environments that enable girls to see themselves as heroes instead of victims, we can empower them to make their own choices—and change the world along the way.