After 16 months, the BOOST project is making progress. While these past months have been challenging and have required a lot of hard work, they have also been fun. More importantly, every step has only confirmed the importance and relevance of this project.
We have now completed the formative study in WP1, and have started WP2, which is the development of the BOOST approach. The formative study, which consists of a literature review, policy review and qualitative interviews, has given us an important foundation to further the development of the BOOST approach.
In short, the formative study highlights the following key aspects that should be considered when developing an approach to working with social and emotional learning (SEL) in primary schools:
- Legislative documents and the basic curriculum in all three countries emphasize the need for school activities to increase students’ social and emotional competence and to include them in the daily teaching processes and learning. However, these documents lack clear obligations and guidelines for schools.
- Many schools work with one or several SEL programmes. These are often perceived to be time and resource consuming and lack flexibility.
- SEL programmes should be more preventative and promotive, rather than solely focused on problem solving. Schools today tend to work more reactively when problems occur, however, all research points to the importance of working proactively.
- SEL programmes should include the WHOLE school, including teachers, administration, leaders, maintenance, after-school staff, school nurses, etc. This is essential to create a SEL-friendly environment.
- Teachers’ education is mainly focused on academic topics and lacks a comprehensive SEL training.
- Schools are measured primarily on academic achievement and, therefore, schools prioritize this over SEL achievements.
- SEL programmes should be flexible and adaptale to the resources and needs of each school.
- The home-school relationship is demanding; teachers feel they lack competence and tools on how to best handle this relationship.
- Strategies to handle and control children’s use of modern technology (gaming/social media/internet) are lacking.
With the findings from WP1 in place, we have now started working on the development of the BOOST approach. A very rough draft has been developed and will be presented to the project’s advisory board in Poznan 7-8 May 2019. This is part of the consultation process in WP2, which includes feedback from the advisory board, as well as from teachers and other school staff in Norway, Poland and Spain.
A full draft of the BOOST approach will be implemented in a total of 9 schools in the three countries in the autumn of 2019.