The Circle of Emotions Benefiting Education

When Successful Teaching and Learning Join Hands

The principles of social and emotional learning (SEL) are proven to be essential in teaching relevant skills to the teachers themselves. In other words, a properly trained educator who is knowledgeable in the principles of social and emotional learning becomes a more successful and efficient communicator for the children they teach, while at the same time encouraging them to manage their own emotions.

Hence, the educator manages to successfully close a circle of experiences, teaching techniques of conveying and absorbing information, in order to obtain the academic success that both the educator and the student seek. In fact, this is a core principle for both the Verita Foundation and the Verita International School (VIS), two intertwined organizations that founded the Compassion in Education Resource Center (CERC)

On solid ground

Lila Vasilescu is the Director of the Verita Foundation and at the same time a trainer and a mother. According to her, people working in these two organizations, namely the Foundation and VIS, had as a main goal the desire to convey their experience of teaching social-emotional learning to their students for more than five years to other parents and educators in the public system, thus emphasizing the relevance of social and emotional learning, with the aim to inspire a new way of looking at our children’s education.

Based on a solid foundation of over 30 years of research and studies, the concept of social and emotional learning has become the main mission of CERC, in its efforts to provide scientific and practical resources, conveyed in various forms.

“It is quite a courageous project that both the Foundation and VIS planned for and worked hard for as they wished to offer these resources to parents and public educators. “

We were addressing both VIS parents and teachers in the public school system. Initially, the project was designed for educators in the public system, having already been invited to train in SEL the amazingly motivated and dedicated teachers from the Teach for Romania organization. However, as time went by, we realized that most of those involved in teaching activities were also parents themselves, which is why the resources we have gathered in our CERC project are now also targeting parents who want to continue developing the social and emotional skills of their children at home since this is an essential part of developing emotional self-regulation in our children,” Lila Vasilescu explains.

“In simple terms, self-regulation is the ability for us to manage our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It helps us to remain calm and alert, and supports the capacity to “respond”, rather than “react” in the face of our many strong emotions and stressors in life and the environment. For example, self-regulation can help a child calm down by himself instead of having a tantrum, or it can help him or her persevere when solving a problem.

Self-regulation in Dr. Stuart Shanker’s view refers to the brain body responses to stress including energy expenditure, recovery and restoration. “Effective self-regulation requires learning to recognize and respond to stress in all its many facets, positive as well as negative, hidden as well as overt, minor as well as traumatic or toxic.”

However, for children to be able to eventually self-regulate, they need from the moment they are born to co-regulate with a caring adult and that is why the parent’s role is in fact the first and most important one as the school can take over from where the child is based on the quality of the co-regulation process they have benefited from at home.

This is why we have decided to offer as many practical and scientific validated resources as possible for both educators and parents in order to be able to support this long-term process of co and self-regulation at home and in schools.

In fact, Lila Vasilescu points out that all resources that are available via CERC are internationally validated under the Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE) curricula, developed by Emory University and the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-based Ethics in the United States. As such, the Verita Foundation is currently the Primary Collaborator of these two institutions, after having signed a memorandum in this regard as of March this year.

Demand Beyond Expectations

Although the CERC project started recently, at the beginning of the year, the demand for resources was overwhelming, according to the director of the Foundation and it came from teachers, educators but also from parents. This confirmed the fact that a large percentage of Romanian teachers and faculty are interested and open to expanding their own knowledge, in order to convey it to students.

The increased interest for social, emotional and ethical learning can be exemplified by the increasing number of attendees who took part in various webinars organized by the foundation and the CERC Project. At the same time, it is not just teachers that are targeted by the resources of the center, but parents as well. An example in this regard is the recently-held webinar “How to increase the feeling of safety in my relationship with my child”, held by Andreea Neagu, psychologist and psychotherapist.

The main ideas discussed during this webinar included the creation of a clear relationship pattern between the parent and the child, forming a clear picture of the relationship parents have with their own children, based on the theory of attachment and on innovative practices in neuroscience, as well as concepts that represent the basis of the feeling of safety and attachment for the future wellbeing and development of the child.

“I suppose the best word to describe the feedback we received since the beginning of the project is as we did not expect such great reactions and the need for quality information on the SEL practices. We realized that people are truly interested in social and emotional learning and my wish for the future is to expand our team so that we can train new people who, in turn, will train other educators,” says Lila Vasilescu, director of the Verita Foundation and a social emotional learning programs facilitator herself in the CERC project.

In fact, together with her colleagues, Marius Luca and Andreea Alexandrescu, she was the host of the webinar called “An Introduction to Social and Emotional Learning” that took place on November 5th. Check out the webinar here (Note that the webinar is in Romanian).

The virtual meeting gathered over 240 educators and parents from all over the country and it included information on interpersonal skills, cultivating positive emotional regulation and self-compassion, taking into account that the latest research in education shows that truly successful curricula incorporates up-to-date scientific discoveries that study emotions and the nervous system.

Advantages of being a part of CERC

To conclude, the advantages of an educational system based on social and emotional learning targets both children, who learn that is normal for emotions to be part of their lives, thus succeeding in identifying and managing them better, but also targets parents and teachers equally, with best practices meant to encourage physical, emotional and mental wellbeing for all those involved in the education process. Thus, society itself will benefit from having children that are more self-aware, more resilient and more motivated to study and learn.