Image by Nihal Muhtadir
Ventura Unified has added a Social Emotional Learning class (SEL) to the hybrid schedule for the first time in its history. SEL classes are taught by third period teachers every Wednesday and focus on bettering students’ mental and emotional health.
“Social Emotional Learning is the process through which people acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel empathy towards others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions,” Davis said.
“At Buena, SEL is focused on keeping students positive during distance learning and also helps them address any emotional issues that may arise, build tools to cope with issues, and helps to understand where there is support,” assistant principal of curriculum and instruction Frank Davis said.
SEL classes not only target students that are dealing with stress, anxiety, or other mental problems, but also students who may not be dealing with any problems at all.
“Even if students are not dealing with any difficulties due to the pandemic or distance learning, understanding SEL concepts helps make you empathetic to others that may be,” Davis said.
Several reports have shown that students feel more stressed with distance learning than with in-person school. Reasons for that cause may vary, but the most common are that students worry that they won’t finish their work on time or they simply feel overwhelmed by the idea of online learning. For this reason, the state of California mandated that all school districts address SEL with their students and staff.
“At the bare minimum, I hope that our SEL classes provide those students who may be feeling anxiety, depression, or additional stress, tools to cope, adjust, and be successful,” Davis said.
“From what I’ve seen, I think our teachers are honoring the directive from the district and state,” Davis said. “I really hope that all students can seek out benefits from the classes.”
Dominic Hernandez agrees that SEL classes can really benefit students’ mental health.
“It’s beneficial to me because not only can I learn some pretty interesting things, but it also helps drop my stress levels,” Hernandez said.
However, Dayana Diaz thinks otherwise. “I do think that SEL is important and is a good way to take a break, however, I don’t really like how the information is presented,” Diaz said.
Although students’ opinions on the class may vary, the class seems to be a success and will continue every Wednesday until the end of the school year.