SXSWedu Conference & Festival attendees participated in hands-on social and emotional learning, or SEL, activities at a session featuring Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz on March 9.
An activity Cruz led during the session at the JW Marriott required pairs of attendees to stand up and explain the origins of their names to each other. Cruz said the activity made participants move, share their history, address diversity, build community relations and create narratives—all elements AISD incorporates into its "whole child approach" to education.
“Educating the whole child is critical to preparing students for college, career and life,” Cruz said.
The four components to AISD’s whole child approach are: coordinated school health, creative learning strategies, social and emotional learning, and culturally responsive strategies, Cruz said.
Another interactive component of the session included taking breaks for attendees to snack on fruit, peanuts and water. Michelle Rusnack, AISD administrative supervisor of physical education, said those kinds of breaks are incorporated into AISD's coordinated school health program, which ultimately improves student performance, focus, behavior and attendance.
“A holistic approach results in more than improved academics,” Cruz said. "It provides students with a rich education with benefits that last a lifetime.”