Talking SEL Integration with Dr. Tara Laughlin

PAIRIN is excited to be launching a brand new training course for educators who want to integrate SEL into their classrooms. We sat down with SEL INTEGRATION  instructor Dr. Tara Laughlin to find out what you can expect from this newly created online training course. She gave us some great insights into who the course is designed for and what participants will take away from it.

Click here to find out more and sign up: SEL Integration Training

Question: Why did PAIRIN decide to create the SEL INTEGRATION course?

One of the biggest questions on the minds of educators seeking to implement SEL is how to effectively integrate it into the classroom.  And we at PAIRIN have an answer to that question. I spent almost two years exclusively studying the topic of SEL classroom integration, honing my expertise and allowing me to understand it on a deep level.

We’ve created this course due to the urgency of this issue. Despite everyone’s best intentions, students are continuing to graduate from their K-12 experience without the social and emotional skills required to succeed in college, career and life. Unfortunately, no additional instructional time is going to magically materialize to teach these things. It is essential that educators have a systematic, sustainable way to integrate social and emotional skills into the classroom. This course provides educators with the tools to do just that.

Question: Tell me about your background as an educator and how it led you to PAIRIN.

Prior to joining the PAIRIN team, I taught for 10 years in a variety of contexts: elementary and middle schools, Title I and non-Title I schools, low-performing and high-performing schools, in South Carolina and in Colorado, and with all manner of varying student demographics. Despite these many contextual differences, there was always a constant: students lacking the social and emotional skills needed to be successful.

This observation ultimately pointed me to my dissertation research topic: How can a classroom teacher, already tasked with making sure students master the standards in their given content area(s), also intentionally develop students’ social-emotional skills alongside the content? Through my research, I developed an instructional design framework which allows educators to seamlessly weave these skills into the content they already teach.

My work in this area led me to my role as Director of Curriculum & Education Training at PAIRIN, following a serendipitous meeting with CEO Michael Simpson. I’m now fortunate to spend my days developing curriculum on social and emotional competencies and working with educators to help them implement it in their various settings.

Question: Who should take this course?

This course is designed for K-12 educators interested in integrating SEL into the classroom, higher education faculty interested in integrating SEL into their courses, and district and school administrators seeking new tools for the educators they support. We do require that individuals taking this course come with a basic understanding of what social and emotional skills are, as we will not spend much time defining the field, but rather jump right into how to incorporate the skills into the classroom.

Question: What will participants gain from this course?

SEL INTEGRATION will provide participants with an in-depth understanding of an instructional design framework for integrating SEL into the content area. This involves experiencing and then deconstructing a ‘content-skills integrated learning experience’ to closely examine its components, diving into best practices in SEL instruction and assessment, and applying each step of the integration framework to design an actual unit of instruction which participants can take back to use in their own schools!

Question: What makes your SEL integration approach unique?

As the question of SEL integration continues to grow louder in educational communities, answers are starting to come in the form of quick, generic statements like:

  • “Build strong relationships with your students”
  • “Encourage positive self-talk”
  • “Let students take responsibility”
  • “Practice mindfulness”
  • “Foster a growth mindset”

While each of these is a worthy suggestion, none offers any guidance on exactly what that looks like nor how to weave it into the classroom in an intentional, sustainable way. The SEL integration framework taught in this course is unique in that it goes far beyond paying lip service to a complex issue. It equips educators with a process to follow, structured enough to guide them forward, yet flexible enough to adapt to their particular students and content area standards.

Find out more about upcoming SEL INTEGRATION training dates and sign up today here: SEL Integration Training