Advance impacts the lives of Rayneri Ortiz and Soleidy Rosario through Social-Emotional Learning

By Mariela Melo

May 22, 2023

Students participate in the “Silhouette of the Child” SEL demonstration

“Today I can see the world from another perspective. My self-esteem is stronger.” “Now I feel confident, excited with great anticipation to work in the classroom.” These are the testimonials of Rayneri Ortiz and Soleidy Rosario, respectively, two young students in the teaching practicum at the Faculty of Education Sciences of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) who say they have overcome personal and professional barriers after participating in Advance’s workshops and practicum course integrated with Socioemotional Learning (SEL).

Rayneri, who is a student of the Pedagogical and Academic Orientation career, and Soleidy, who is a student of the Spanish Language and Literature degree program, were unaware of the competencies of social and emotional learning. Thanks to the coordinated work between the Advance Program and the UASD, today they can understand and manage emotions (self-awareness), set and achieve positive goals (self-control), feel and show empathy for others (social awareness), establish and maintain positive relationships (relationship skills), and make responsible decisions. Advance’s SEL course is based on the model proposed by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning).

Nearly 290 young students participated in introductory workshops held by the Program with the aim of providing pre-service teachers with the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to ensure that learning spaces are safe environments. Through Advance support, pre-service teachers also learned to address the socioemotional needs of their students and learned techniques to manage their own well-being and stress as they embark on their new teaching and continuing education challenges.

When asked about memorable moments or activities from the SEL classes, Rayneri commented, “I loved the demonstrations that took place such as the ‘Silhouette of the Child,’ which is a paper silhouette that we were wrinkling while saying ugly words to it, and then while we were saying encouraging words, we were unwrinkling it. But the silhouette did not return to normal, because no matter how many compliments or forgiveness we ask for, there are after-effects of what happened.” Rayneri also says she has applied this activity in her practicum at school in a training she gave on bullying, and that it was a rewarding experience.

For these pre-service teachers, teaching is “a great thing” after SEL. Soleidy asserted, “If you have the necessary strategies, techniques, skills and abilities, teaching is motivating. It goes beyond having a learning routine. It is a process that should be interactive and fun.” This trend allows teachers to observe and get to know the student and strengthen their will, thinking and behavior. By integrating SEL into the teaching practicum courses, Advance is helping UASD to promote and achieve a more comprehensive academic development of their student body and to ensure future teachers are better equipped to attend to the needs of children and youth.

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