Reduced Standardized Testing Makes Room for Social Emotional Learning


We have been observing the growth of STEAM, Personalized Learning (PL), Digital Learning (DL) and a host of other trends in education. With the pressure from businesses and the societal impact of many students not being prepared to handle conflicts, harassment, bullying, and problem-solving, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been growing as a major need. Teachers across the country are embracing the opportunity to help build strong young people, as states are beginning to allow and encourage blended learning approaches.

Linsey Covert, founder of TEAMology, “Early in my school counseling career, I saw the need to create something that could change the way schools were approaching social emotional learning, school climate, and character education. I wanted to provide the necessary resources and tools for educators to help them build strong character, leadership skills, and an overall sense of helping one another. It also only made sense to make a connection to home and engage parents. So, twelve years ago, we began building courseware based on six strong character foundations, we even created six relatable characters that students 'study' to build their own strong foundations.  Partnering with experts in the field from Penn State University, we began testing the course work in schools five years ago. We tested, refined and researched every aspect of the coursework. It was important to us that teachers could integrate our foundations across their curriculum.”

What we did not anticipate was the impact Project TEAM would have on the teachers in terms of less teacher turnover. It appears that the teachers also find value in bonding as a team to help the students apply all the foundations developed by TEAMology.

Dr. Richard Hazler

Dr. Richard Hazler & Dr. JoLynn Carney have spent their careers researching school violence and bullying prevention. They have been asked many times over the years to develop or partner with a bullying prevention program. “Our answer has always been ‘no’ because, while there are good programs out there that deal specifically with bullying, violence, or some other issue, we wanted a program that promoted investment and reward for the school community as a whole. The internal energy and rewards that come from such a unified and team-oriented approach is why we have actively, and professionally invested in the research, development, and evaluation of Project TEAM."

“What it takes to reduce bullying is a community that creates an environment where the behavior is not accepted and helping behaviors are supported. The TEAM concept is really a critical one for schools that can allow schools to see change. Dr. JoLynn Carney joined in the research and development of Project TEAM. "What we always suspected was that creating a positive environment by empowering the students with strong prosocial attitudes and skills would help with bullying problems, other disciplinary issues, and provide a more productive environment for learning and growing.  We now have the data that applying this approach with fidelity actually works. “What we did not anticipate," Dr. Hazler said. “Was the impact Project TEAM would have on the teachers in terms of less teacher turnover. It appears that the teachers also find value in bonding as a team to help the students apply all the foundations developed by TEAMology.” Dr. Carney added, "That is just very satisfying."

Dr. Sue Kanigsberg, Asst. Director of Educational Services, of Lincoln Intermediate Unit, has thoroughly reviewed the materials on the platform. "Now that students and teachers in Pennsylvania’s third through eighth grades will spend 20 percent less time on statewide testing, TEAMology will help teachers do more of what they entered teaching to do in the first place - focus on kids rather than tests. For administrators, it helps get a jump start on Chapter 339 and the Future Ready Index mandates that take effect in the fall of 2018.”

In early 2016, TEAMology began to see interest from school districts grow rapidly. "All this hard work and development was paying off," Linsey said. TEAMology began to research would it would take to build a cloud-based home for all of the character material so teachers would have easier access. As the program was taking hold in schools, TEAMology wanted the materials to be accessible to all teachers. Linsey pushed, “Not only easy access, we went much further. Teachers are collaborating and helping build the materials to be even stronger.  I understand what it means to be in the trenches, and what support and sharing best practices can mean from my peers.” The platform launched in July and early going is encouraging as over 1,000 teachers are onboarded, using the material, offering their help and collaborating with one another.  Jen Lowe from Stafford Township SD has been using the material for over six years.  “I can tell you it is worthwhile.  Bullying is basically gone, and I have a better handle on my students' emotions and how to handle them.  It’s techniques we weren’t taught in school,” said Jen. Chris Schmidt says, "Now that the materials are in the cloud, more teachers joining will make the program stronger."

According to Lindsay Read, manager of research at CASEL (and yes it’s an acronym) Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, "As more programs are being taken up (SEL) in schools and districts, there becomes this greater demand to assess them, to see if they’re working, to see if students are, in fact, learning the skills that are being  taught."

“Having a well-respected organization such as CASEL research helping to educate and emphasize the importance of SEL, is the type of efforts we need to make SEL a part of a lasting fabric in schools.  The data points we are beginning to collect could become important to CASEL type research efforts,” said Linsey.

About TEAMology: TEAMology is a culmination of decades of research and side-by-side teaching with the most renowned experts in SEL. The material is based on six relatable characters and the foundations of a house called Project TEAM that teachers and students use to emulate best strong skills and relate them to future Ready Indexes such as career exploration practices. Click here for more information and research. 

About Intermediate Units: Intermediate Units were established in 1971 to serve the school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They are led by an executive director and governed by boards of directors composed of school board members from member school districts.  Intermediate Units serve several needs for Districts, from Professional Development, mandated programs and progressive methods to build students as viable contributors to higher-ed and communities.

Media Contact and Other Information:  Bob Fiori 610-476-0702

Source: TEAMology

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