Kid’s hands holding happy, sad and unsatisfied paper faces. 2024/03/iStock-1366828385.jpg

Supporting Teachers in Puerto Rico with Social and Emotional Training

Assessing a professional development program to bring social and emotional learning frameworks to classrooms in support of both student and teacher well-being

Since 2017, students in Puerto Rico have faced class disruption due to the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, and the impact of COVID-19. For many students, returning to the classroom was a taste of normality and recovery after multiple periods of uncertainty. For this reason, the teachers and social workers of the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) have taken on extra roles as counsellors, community leaders, and support workers for their students. Their sacrifices have led to burnout among educators, which has urgently called for incorporating social and emotional management into their school communities.

Aprendizaje con Emoción, or Learning through/with Emotion (ACEmoción), is a remote professional development program for teachers and social workers of grades 1-6 in the PRDE. Developed by Coschool, this remote learning program encompasses six modules rooted in a social and emotional learning (SEL) framework. The training focuses on providing teachers with tools to identify their own feelings and challenges so that they can replicate those strategies with their students.

“I describe ACEmoción as “thank you for thinking about me.” The program came at a specific time when my school was undergoing a reconstruction period, filling students with uncertainty. I needed to organize and manage my own emotions to guide my students. The program carefully equipped me with tools to understand the root of our feelings and how to manage them to lead change.”

A PRDE teacher from the south of Puerto Rico.

Related Content

The research team is evaluating ACEmoción’s impact using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) methodology. With 365 eligible schools, the evaluation of the program aims to understand the possible effects of an SEL program for teachers on students’ achievement, along with students’ and teachers’ well-being.

Since January 2023, almost 1,000 teachers in Puerto Rico have had the opportunity to participate in the professional development program to deepen their knowledge of emotional management in the classroom while building connections with other teachers in the country.

ACEmoción is currently welcoming its third cohort of teachers into the professional development program, and the evaluation team is expected to have preliminary results by the end of 2024. The next phase of the evaluation program will research the role of commitment, professional learning communities, and peer support in completing professional development programs.