Thursday, January 3, 2008

Teaching Social Skills #2

I want to thank Tom Hanson for sharing his post with me from Open Education: To Increase Student Achievement Should We Focus on Social Skills? after reading my post on Teaching Social Skills.

I was so glad to see that someone else was in agreement with me. I have taught this way for years even knowing that I was like salmon swimming upstream. Yet teachers came to me and asked me why my students learned so much better in my class. Parents even noticed the difference and wanted students in my class. I see education as a whole mind and body experience not just an academic/brain issue.

Years ago I gave students in two different self contained special education classes a self concept test and an achievement test at the beginning of the year. The results showed that both classes of special education students had very low self concepts and low achievement scores. During the year I spent a lot of additional time on teaching social skills to my class in addition to the academic skills required for both classes. The other teacher only taught the academic requirements without any extra social skills instruction (in fact she spent a lot of the year rolling her eyes at me and shaking her head thinking I was wasting my time). During that year, my students became more accepted by their peers as they began interacting more appropriately, which in turn increased their self concept. My students seemed to have fewer conflicts with their peers and their other teachers, which meant more time spent in the classroom rather than an administrator’s office. These students were also getting more positive attention from peers, teachers, and even their parents. At the end of the year I gave the self concept test and achievement test again to compare scores. I was not in the least surprised when both scores of my entire class had increased greatly and the other class (who had no special instruction in social skills) only showed small improvement in achievement and very little change in self concept. I also interviewed my students after reviewing the test results with them. Some of my students felt like teachers helped them more now rather than before they learned these social skills. Even if that was not true, the students perceived it to be true which hopefully would motivate them to continue this behavior. I also feel that as their self concept improved, the students became more relaxed and able to retain more information from the lesson, which improved their overall achievement scores

I wish there was a way to convince administrators and other teachers that this is a great way to help our students be more successful.


Clix said...

Oo. What level was this? I would be greatly interested in knowing what you did to teach social skills.

loonyhiker said...

I have done this on the elementary level and the high school level. It has worked on both levels.

tp said...

I believe that social skills need to be taught. Did you discuss what you do in your previous tip? Could you post a link or repeat this? Thanks!

loonyhiker said...

tp: sorry I missed your comment. I wrote more about social skills. The link to that post is