Our Approach to Social, Emotional, & Academic Development (SEAD)

Four decades of research and evaluation have documented Facing History’s impact across the core areas of SEL. Each Facing History class—whether social studies, history, civics, or ELA—is built around our core approach, which integrates the study of history, literature, and human behavior with ethical decision-making and innovative teaching strategies in order to foster SEL competencies.

A student-centered learning environment provides the foundation for implementing Facing History’s content and pedagogy. 

This approach enables teachers to promote students’ historical understanding, critical thinking, empathy and other social-emotional competencies, and to facilitate transformative dialogue in their classrooms. In Facing History classrooms, teachers: 

  1. promote a climate of respect; 
  2. model a culture of questioning; 
  3. nurture student voice; create space for diverse identities, viewpoints, and lived experience; 
  4. deepen reflection through thoughtful silence; and 
  5. honor different learning styles. 

This student-centered learning environment provides the foundation for implementing Facing History’s content and pedagogy. This approach enables teachers to promote students’ historical understanding, critical thinking, empathy and other social-emotional competencies, and to facilitate transformative dialogue in their classrooms.

How Facing History Aligns with SEL

  1. Self-awareness—Facing History fosters deeper awareness of identity, including how students see themselves, how others see them, and the factors that affect one’s identity, ultimately strengthening student voice.
  2. Self-management—Facing History students actively engage with complex issues that elicit different perspectives and opinions. Facing History teachers emphasize respectful communication and deliberation, and students report decreased conduct problems in school.
  3. Social awareness—Facing History’s emphasis on perspective taking and developing empathy helps students understand and appreciate differences and see the humanity in others, leading to students’ documented increase in empathy and interpersonal understanding.
  4. Relationship skills—Facing History students have improved ability to communicate, cooperate, collaborate, and deliberate with others who hold different points of view about meaningful social and civic issues. 
  5. Responsible decision-making—Facing History students reflect on decisions made by people in history or literature in order to inform their own ethical decision-making. Further, Facing History fosters respect for others, awareness and concern for how one’s actions may affect others, and a greater commitment to balancing one’s own interests and well-being with that of others in school and beyond.

Independent Recommendations

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

In their Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs—Middle and High School Edition, CASEL named Facing History as one of only nine middle or high school SEL programs (among nearly 400 nominated) that has a proven positive impact on students, such as increased empathy or more prosocial behavior. Facing History is just one of two cited which work at both the middle and high school level, and among the few that integrates the development of SEL competencies into the academic disciplines.

CASEL also called out Facing History for integrating issues of race/ethnicity into regular social studies and language arts instruction in its investigation of how to integrate SEL and issues of equity

Evidence for ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) 

Facing History meets ESSA standards for evidence, one of eight middle school programs and one of only four high school programs to be recommended as Evidence-Based Social-Emotional Learning Programs.

 

Proven Impact

Studies have found that students who participate in Facing History programs develop: 

  • increased tolerance for others with different political views 
  • decreased racist attitudes
  • stronger growth mindset
  • improved higher-order and historical thinking skills
  • increased capacity for civil discourse, and 
  • increased sense of civic responsibility and civic agency

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