Social Emotional Learning in the Taxi Dog Classroom

What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) “involves the processes through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (2013 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs, p. 4).

Social Emotional Core Competencies

The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an organization dedicated to developing, promoting, and setting the standards in the field of SEL, has identified five competencies to define “a process for helping children develop the fundamental skills for life effectiveness."

  • 1. Self-awareness – the ability to acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of oneself and others and to understand their influence on behaviors.
  • 2. Social awareness – the ability to empathize with others regardless of background or culture, and to understand social and ethical norms of behavior.
  • 3. Self-management – the ability to regulate one’s emotions, cognition, and behaviors effectively to delay gratification, manage stress, control impulses, set goals, and self-motivate.
  • 4. Relationship skills – the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships, communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate, and seek help when needed.
  • 5. Responsible decision-making – the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior based on a realistic evaluation of the consequences of various actions and the well-being of self and others.

The Benefits of SEL

There is a growing evidence base revealing the significance of the social side of learning. A landmark 2011 study found that well-designed and implemented “SEL programs improve test-taking skills and performance, promote positive social behaviors and reduce behavioral problems, decrease levels of emotional distress, and foster positive feelings” (Durlak, et al., 2011).

Additional research has shown that children exposed to SEL show evidence of resiliency (Hawkins et al., 2008), in that they are LESS LIKELY later in life to:

  • Abuse alcohol and drugs
  • Suffer from mental illnesses
  • Be incarcerated

SEL aligns with diverse educational programs that promote character building, conflict resolution, 21st Century Skills, mindfulness, and citizenship.

Taxi Dog and SEL

The Taxi Dog Program is designed to reach students of varying abilities and aid in the development of their proficiency in the areas outlined in the five CASEL competencies. Social and emotional skills are modeled in the Taxi Dog video story and paired with supporting lessons. Each Taxi Dog lesson is designed to offer SAFE Definition:S: use a Sequenced set of activities to achieve skill objectives
A: use Active forms of learning
F: include at least one program component Focused on developing personal or social skills
E: Explicitly target particular personal or social skills for development
(systematic, active, focused and explicit) and multisensory experiences to ensure the most accessible, effective education for all types of learners.

Taxi Dog infuses SEL into the classroom with the goal of creating a positive, caring, learning environment, by giving students the tools they need to manage their emotional worlds in order to succeed in school and life, and ultimately become compassionate global citizens.

"Emotions can facilitate or impede children’s academic engagement, work ethic, commitment, and ultimate school success. "

Durlak et al., 2011