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Missouri wants to teach students to be better humans through social-emotional learning

Students inside an elementary school classroom sit with their back to the camera. A teacher sits at the head of the class talking to them.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
At least 27 states have implemented some form of social-emotional learning standards in their schools.

Poor classroom behavior is pushing some teachers out of the profession. The Missouri Department Elementary and Secondary Education wants to implement learning standards including self-awareness, respect and empathy.

Since the COVID-19 school closures, student behavior that is disruptive to the classroom setting has reportedly grown worse.

"Teachers are finding it really difficult to to teach the curriculum that they're being instructed to teach simply because they can't get past the student misbehavior and disciplinary issues in the classroom," said Jen Foster, PhD, co-chair of the social-emotional learning standards work group developed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

A work group of educators, counselors and mental health experts are working to formally introduce social-emotional standards into K-12 education. The standards are designed to make students more aware and accountable for how their actions affect themselves and those around them.

"It allows students to develop those coping skills to be able to manage their own behaviors, and helps to create a more productive learning environment within the classroom. So more learning can happen because the students have the abilities and skills to recognize and manage their own behaviors and emotions," said Chrissy Bashore, coordinator of school counseling and student wellness at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

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