Tooele County School District leadership looked for a widely used and evidence-based curriculum that would promote social and emotional learning and provide the foundation for a safe, respectful learning environment. In 2013, the District applied for and received an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling federal grant. This helped fund counselors and enabled the purchase of the Second Step program which was piloted in seven elementary schools within TCSD.
In 2014, the District received the School Climate Transformation Grant, allowing for Second Step to be implemented into all elementary and junior high schools. It has become a crucial piece in promoting the District’s overall positive culture and climate initiative.
The Second Step curriculum is designed to provide elements of social and emotional learning for students in preschool through 8th grade.
According to the Committee for Children, “social-emotional learning is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work and life success. People with strong social-emotional skills are better able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially.”
Second Step features tools, teaching aids, activity guides, and resources for classroom teachers to ensure successful social-emotional skills instruction. Students are taught to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
“Second Step is a great tool for our teachers and staff to be able to teach resilience, hope, and compassion to our students. Throughout our district, we have a common language and a way to work with students who move from one school to another, and transition between grades,” said Marianne Oborn, Counseling director.
Julie Spindler, Prevention director, said the program helps students beyond their grade-school years.
“The lessons in Second Step teach our students skills that will be used every day throughout their lives,” said Spindler. “As our students get jobs, become parents, progress positively into adulthood, they can instill these healthy behaviors and clear standards in all facets of their lives.”
Copper Canyon Elementary Principal Terri Chynoweth has made it common practice to use the program in her school. She said the program gives her opportunities to discuss with individual students strategies to help resolve conflicts and how to use Second Step skills to approach similar incidents in the future.
Chynoweth said the kindergarten through 6th-grade lesson topics are designed to help students understand and manage their emotions, control their reactions, be aware of others’ feelings, and develop problem-solving and responsible decision-making skills.
Other topics in the elementary Second Step curriculum include listening with attention, being assertive, respecting similarities and differences, using self-talk, and showing compassion. Students are also taught how to resist revenge, handle put-downs, take responsibility, solve classroom problems, and deal with negative peer pressure.
Topics for 7th and 8th-grade students focus on helping adolescents cope with challenges, including learning about mindsets and goals, recognizing bullying and harassment, managing thoughts, emotions, relationships, and social conflict. The program highlights ways to be empathetic and how to create strong friendships while avoiding or de-escalating peer conflicts.
Due to copyright, the Second Step curriculum cannot be shown online. However, families can contact their schools to sit in on a lesson, review the curriculum at the school, or contact Julie Spindler at (435) 833-1900.
For more information about Second Step visit: https://www.secondstep.org/success-stories/tooele-a-district-and-community-respond-to-trauma