Congratulations to Cottage Lane Elementary School Assistant Principal Rob Schliessman on earning his Doctorate in Education for Educational Leadership from Manhattanville College!
Schliessman’s dissertation focused on supporting students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) and mental health at the elementary level. “Recently, SEL and mental health have become a larger focus in schools. The notion of social-emotional competence relates to students’ abilities to problem-solve and form and maintain positive relationships with others. I chose this topic, in part, because of the pandemic, but also to bring the advisory model that exists in some middle and high schools to the elementary level,” he explained.
For his participatory action research study, Schliessman worked closely with a small group of teachers and CLE’s school support team to develop a “student advisory program” curriculum and implement it at a classroom level. He examined how classroom teachers experienced the shift in their roles as instructors to acquire expertise in the added role of teacher-advisor. Additionally, Schliessman’s study sought to determine whether teachers perceived their students exhibiting greater agency as a result of engagement with the classroom-based advisory program. Participating teachers reported feeling more connected to their students and gained a greater understanding of the importance of such programs.
“Students became more comfortable with talking with one another, building relationships which support their social-emotional needs and through which they reciprocate support, and making healthy and safe decisions,” noted Schliessman. “This is important because research has shown that there is a direct relationship between social emotional learning and students’ overall academic success. Children’s mental health is one of the reasons I pursued a career in education. Our job is to support the development of the whole child–academically, socially and emotionally–and find ways to embed this work effectively throughout the school day.”
Administrators and school support teams have led the District’s SEL work in collaboration with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (RULER program) for more than four years. At the elementary level, these efforts are aligned with character education, morning meetings and monthly assemblies. “We have a number of the student advisory program components in place already. Hopefully, this study will be insightful for other schools interested in implementing an SEL program as part of their school day,” Schliessman said.
Schliessman joined the District as Assistant Principal at Cottage Lane Elementary School in 2017. He is responsible for curriculum development for core subjects and CLE’s social emotional learning program, professional development planning for educators, coordination of enrichment programming for students and oversight of the school’s Response-to-Intervention process.
“Dr. Schliessman’s effort to further his own education and learning serves as a great example,” stated Director of Staff Relations Joseph Lloyd, Ph.D. “We are proud of his study’s focus on the roles that ongoing communications and relationship-building can serve in advancing our students’ well-being.”