Task Groups In The School Setting Promoting Childrens Social And Emotional Learning

Through social and emotional learning (SEL), individuals develop skill in negotiating relationships successfully and expressing emotions appropriately. The socially and emotionally intelligent child reaps benefits in school and later life. Counselors are best qualified to promote children’s SEL and the task group in the classroom provides an excellent opportunity for them to do so.

In the task group, students can learn and practice crucial skills in vivo while they work together to complete a task. The counselor’s strategic attention to promoting task completion while facilitating SEL can serve to highlight the benefits of group work in the school learning environment.

Keywords: schools; social and emotional learning; task groups

Because humans are social beings, they spend a great deal of time interacting with others and much of that interaction takes place in groups. As Sonstegard and Bitter (1998) so aptly stated, ‘‘to be human is to ‘live’ in groups’’ (p. 251). The group (e.g., family, peer) serves as the ‘‘primary socializing influence’’ in children’s development (Kulic, Horne, & Dagley, 2004) and the nature of the social environment in those groups leads children down a path toward either prosocial or antisocial behavior and beliefs (Hawkins, Smith, & Catalano, 2004).

Children develop social skills and prosocial behaviors through social and emotional learning (SEL). Although there are various defi- nitions of SEL, Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg and Walberg (2007) define it succinctly as ‘‘the process through which children enhance their ability to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving to achieve important life tasks’’ (p. 6). Five competency areas—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible

Patricia Van Velsor, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling at San Francisco State University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Patricia Van Velsor, Department of Counseling, San Francisco State