The Montgomery Virtual Program’s (MVP) mission focuses on building partnerships with our local schools and districts while researching and partnering with premier virtual education companies to provide a well-rounded virtual curriculum and program offerings for our districts. Last year, our team expanded that mission to include a focus on creating opportunities for learning and engagement for our students, families, and partners beyond just our virtual curriculum.
As we worked through the design and content of these resources, it became apparent that intentional social-emotional learning (SEL) alignment was an opportunity to foster growth in the important five SEL competency areas as defined by CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. This post is the fourth in a five-part series around our team’s mission to build resources around each of those competencies.
According to CASEL, relationship skills are the ability to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed.
Relationship Skills growth is exhibited in the ability to:
- Communicate clearly and effectively
- Develop healthy, positive relationships
- Demonstrate cultural awareness and competency
- Practice collaboration and teamwork
- Resolve conflicts with others
- Resist social pressures
- Exhibit leadership skills
- Seek help from others when needed
- Advocate for themselves and others
MVP Resources Aligned to
MVP Learning Coach Guide (Access Here)
MVP seeks to support our entire learning community consisting of our students, their families, and our school partners. Our team discussed the challenges our Learning Coaches (parent/guardian or adult responsible for supporting virtual students) might face. Do they have access to the resources needed to best support their learner? Have we communicated the requirements of their role? Are they aware of the opportunities to connect with our team and their student’s instructors?
Our team designed the MVP Learning Coach Guide with an intentional focus on supporting relationship skills and empowering our Learning Coaches with essential resources and support. It enables them to understand their role better while promoting trust, communication, collaboration, and a sense of belonging within our community.
The guide includes:
- Welcome Message and Video
- Meet Our Team
- Channels of Support
- Ways to Get Involved in MVP Programs
Opportunities for Relationship Skills are fostered in:
- Inclusive and Welcoming Environment
- Connection with our Team
- Clear Avenues to Seek Help, Advice, and Support
- Encouraging Participation in MVP Programs
MVP User Group
MVP User Group convenes virtually once a month to facilitate connections among our District partners and the MVP team. While the forum does serve as a platform for program updates and education on online learning topics, it is an opportunity for our partners to build relationships with our team and other district leaders throughout the MVP network.
Our District partners often approach us with similar questions and challenges regarding how they can best support their learning coaches and students. Our team can always provide best practices on these topics, but we find that the most valuable insights emerge when partners share their experiences with one another during open discussions. The knowledge shared in these exchanges has informed improvements to our program and has played a pivotal role in shaping our Learning Coach and District Partner Guides. To respect the privacy and confidentiality of the districts, we record the learning portion of User Group only, ensuring that each partner’s specific needs remain within the group’s space. After the session, we share the recorded learning with partners who were unable to attend, promoting collaborative learning and knowledge sharing across the community.
Opportunities for Relationship Skills growth are fostered in:
- Connection and Networking
- Collective Problem Solving
- Shared Experiences
- Building Trust
- Providing Support
- Recognizing Similarities and Common Goals
MVP User Group serves as a vital channel for fostering relationship skills, as it encourages connection, collaboration, and the sharing of experiences among our District partners, ultimately leading to continuous improvements in our program and support for learning coaches.
While we focused on the MVP Learning Coach Guide and User Group, MVP addresses relationship skills through other resources and programs as well. Our goal in this series is to highlight how the SEL competencies can be a support in a virtual program and how these resources can be adapted for any school format. As this series continues, we will look at the other Social Emotional Learning Competencies from the CASEL framework.
CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional learning are leaders in the field of Social-Emotional Learning with their SEL framework. The SEL framework centers around 5 competencies that offer areas of growth throughout one’s life: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. You can learn more about CASEL and SEL by visiting our OOPL SEL resources.
The Montgomery Virtual Program (MVP) resides in the Office of Organizational and Professional Learning within the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. We partner with districts and schools in Montgomery County and beyond to provide virtual learning opportunities for their students. We are in our 7th year and have seen tremendous growth in enrollment that has remained constant, even long after pandemic school closures.