Working with experts from across Canada, we have defined a menu of concrete, teachable competencies and skills in health, social-emotional learning, creativity, and citizenship. We have also identified learning conditions in the classroom, school, and community that support student growth in these areas.
Competencies and conditions for student success
Citizenship education includes the acquisition of knowledge of historical and political concepts and processes. It supports the development of students’ understanding of social issues and of the impact of their behaviour and decisions on others. It develops their capacity to recognize and value different perspectives and their sense of agency to influence change in society.
Why it matters
A democratic and cohesive society relies on people understanding the impact of their behaviour and decisions on others, and having the capacity to play an informed role in the affairs of their society. Citizenship education supports students’ capacity to be responsible, active citizens in their schools and communities. It allows them to become contributing members of a democratic society.
Appreciation of diversity
- Students can articulate elements of their own cultural identity and worldview.
- Students understand the complex and fluid nature of their own and others’ identities.
- Students understand how cultures and cultural values can be represented in traditions, institutions, and symbols.
- Students recognize diversity within particular cultural communities or groups.
- Students understand the role religion plays in shaping the worldviews and actions.
Awareness of power
- Students understand power relationships in everyday life, including within families, at school, and with friends.
- Students understand power relationships in society between and among individuals, groups, and institutions.
- Students understand how power is exercised through both formal and informal means.
- Students evaluate the use of power from multiple perspectives – the degrees to which it is fair, justified, and/or arbitrary.
- Students understand how to work with both formal and informal systems of power to make change.
Development of voice
- Students understand key concepts and ideas underlying important civic, social, environmental, and/or economic issues.
- Students understand the range of positions people hold on important civic, social, environmental and/or economic issues.
- Students understand how perspectives on civic, social, environmental and/or economic issues can change over time and contexts.
- Students can articulate a personal position with respect to important civic, social, environmental and/or economic issues.
- Students identify a range of techniques used in public discussion to make points or manipulate opinion.
- Students are able to use appropriate institutions, structures, and mechanisms to effect change on important civic, social, economic, and/or environmental issues.
Creativity is a process that involves generating novel ideas and products, using one’s imagination, being inquisitive, and persisting when difficulties arise. The process includes collaborating with others and being able to evaluate creative products, ideas, and processes dispassionately. Creative competencies and skills are vital for problem solving and for developing ways of adapting knowledge to new contexts.
Why it matters
In a knowledge economy, and times of rapid change, we need people with the creative capacity to adapt knowledge to new contexts, generate new ideas, and use innovative approaches to problem-solving. Fostering creativity helps students develop resilience, resourcefulness, and confidence, and is positively linked to engagement, achievement, and innovation.
- Students make connections across disciplines and between objects and ideas.
- Students use intuition.
- Students work with objects and ideas without an end goal in mind.
- Students generate a range of novel ideas in relation to personal knowledge and learning context.
- Students apply metaphorical thinking.
- Students articulate potential problems to solve in relation to ambiguous or complex phenomena.
- Students seek new resources to answer emerging questions.
- Students explore initial ideas more deeply.
- Students challenge assumptions.
- Students integrate different sets of discipline knowledge or skills to solve problems.
- Students empathize with others through careful observation and open-ended questioning.
- Students share information and ideas.
- Students integrate ideas and feedback offered by others.
- Students ask for evaluative input from teachers and peers.
- Students seek assistance.
- Students objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of creative ideas, work or products.
- Students critically reflect on the outcomes of the work.
- Students refine and improve work.
- Students explore ambiguous and complex phenomena.
- Students take paths or approaches different from their peers or teachers.
- Students defend solutions and break conventions.
Health education supports students in adopting healthy lifestyles from an early age, and provides them with the self-regulatory skills and competencies they need to make healthy decisions and engage in health promoting behaviours.
Why it matters
Teaching students the habits and skills that provide a foundation for health improves their chances for academic success. It leads to increased productivity, improved life expectancy, greater capacity to cope with life’s challenges, and can reduce the risk of both chronic disease and mental illness.
Capacity for making healthy choices
- Students develop a sense of personal responsibility for their own health and the choices they make.
- Students develop strong relationships with caring others (peers, teachers, parents, and community members)
Eating and sleeping
- Students understand the importance of making healthy eating choices.
- Students understand the importance of impulse control and strategies that lead to them make healthy eating choices.
- Students learn to identify obstacles to making healthy eating choices and have problem-solving strategies to assist them in overcoming these obstacles.
- Students understand the importance of sleep, the factors that put their sleep at risk, and how to overcome these factors.
- Students develop an awareness of their sleep needs and how their bodies are influenced by their sleeping patterns.
Personal safety and appropriate risk-taking
- Students can assess the risks associated with the health choices they make.
- Students are able to identify social risks and develop strategies to resist peer-pressure and respond effectively to risky situations.
- Students have a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence to resist outside pressures to engage in risky behaviour.
- Students mitigate potential risks and reduce unnecessary risky behaviour through the help of strong relationships with caring others (peers, teachers, parents, and community members).
- Students have the movement and physical literacy skills needed to participate in and enjoy a range of activities.
- Students understand concepts such as body and spatial awareness, center of gravity, laws of motion and force.
- Students learn to self-reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement, set attainable and realistic goals, monitor and evaluate performance, and develop strategies to obtain goals and overcome obstacles.
- Students develop focus, concentration and perseverance skills and strategies.
- Students develop an appreciation for physical activities and personal fitness and understand the value of being physically active.
- Students learn to cooperate with others, include others in activities, and develop helping skills, responsibility and respect for others.
- Students have a secure sexual identity and develop a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth in relation to their sexual identity.
- Students respect the sexual identities of others.
- Students understand the importance of intimate relationships that are caring, respectful and non-violent.
- Students understand the role of social media in sexual health and how to be respectful and responsible in that context.
- Students have the capacity to manage risks and make healthy decisions regarding their sexuality.
Understanding and management of mental illness
- Students understand mental health issues and the impact that stigmatization can have.
- Students can recognize emerging mental health issues in themselves and others.
- Students can identify their emotions and manage their emotions.
- Students are able and willing to seek help for mental health issues for themselves and others.
- Students are able to develop caring and supportive relationships with their peers, teachers, and family and community members.
- Students have productive coping, problem-solving and resilience skills to overcome stressful and challenging situations.
For a detailed set of competencies that support mental health, please see the social-emotional learning competencies.
Social-emotional learning supports students in understanding and managing their emotions, developing positive relationships with others, and engaging with their community. Students can learn social-emotional competencies just as they learn formal academic skills—through regular interactions with peers, teachers, and school staff inside and outside of the classroom.
Why it matters
Strong social-emotional skills are critical for students’ educational attainment, long-term well-being and prosperity, and their ability to contribute to society.
- Students identify and describe their own emotions.
- Students understand why they feel the way they do.
- Students are honest with themselves and others.
- Students recognize what others are feeling and why.
- Students develop an accurate sense of their capacity to succeed in a variety of situations (i.e. persistence, motivation, confidence, resilience, limitations).
- Students understand their own needs and values.
- Students develop an accurate understanding of themselves, such as their learning styles, strengths, and areas that need improvement.
- Students develop personalized learning strategies to master academic material.
- Students monitor and manage academic goals.
- Students develop strategies for setting short and long-term goals.
- Students develop adaptability and flexibility.
- Students develop persistence—they respond and adjust to perceived failure.
- Students respond constructively to internal and external factors that have an impact on their learning and emotion.
- Students develop self-regulation skills and strategies for their feelings, e.g. agitation, anger, elation or listlessness.
- Students manage interpersonal stress and emotions (how to verbalize and develop strategies to manage anxiety, anger, and depression).
- Students develop positive motivation, a sense of hope, optimism, and satisfaction.
- Students understand others’ perspectives.
- Students recognize verbal and non-verbal emotional cues in themselves and in others.
- Students adapt to the mood of a group and respond constructively.
- Students empathize with others.
- Students assess risk of social danger and respond appropriately.
- Students understand diverse cultural contexts.
- Students appreciate diversity.
- Students demonstrate social responsibility.
- Students build and maintain trust in themselves and others.
- Students demonstrate empathy.
- Students demonstrate respect and recognize its importance.
- Students develop skills to recognize, understand, and address/resolve interpersonal conflict.
- Students develop collaborative skills.
- Students engage in cooperative learning, and work toward group goals.
- Students develop leadership skills.
- Students resist inappropriate/negative social pressures.
- Students develop constructive relationships with students and adults.
- Students engage in the school and community and at home.
- Students identify problems when making decisions and generate alternatives.
- Students develop and refine self-reflective and self-evaluative skills.
- Students make decisions based on moral, personal, and ethical standards.
- Students understand how responsible decisions can affect themselves and others, the school, and the community.
- Students understand the importance of equity and social justice.
- Students develop skills to negotiate fairly.
In a quality learning environment classrooms support a dynamic interrelationship between students, teachers and content; the whole school mirrors ideals of citizenship in democratic societies, and supports social relationships characterized by trust, interdependence and empathy; and school – community relationships focus on students’ well-being, promote cross-cultural perspectives, and provide broader learning opportunities for students.
Why it matters
The organization of the school, the relationships within it, and the learning “environments” within classrooms influence students’ academic, social, and behavioural learning. The quality of practices and the opportunities to learn, both inside the classroom and throughout the school, play a critical role in developing environments where students can flourish.
Conditions in classrooms
- The classroom is welcoming, inclusive, and psychologically safe.
- Student voice and experiences are integrated within learning and curriculum in classrooms.
- Students characterize their work in class as both interesting and engaging; students are intrinsically motivated.
- Expectations for students are high, but realistic.
- Student expectations are not fixed. They are open, dynamic, and collaboratively shared.
- Diversity in the classroom is respected and individual differences are celebrated.
- All students are provided with opportunities to participate.
- Risk-taking is rewarded and failures are embraced as learning opportunities.
- The teacher takes risks – mistakes are made visible to students.
- The teacher’s classroom management style focuses on maintaining high standards, while projecting genuine warmth.
- Positive student-teacher and student-student relationships are supported.
- Tasks are balanced between direct instruction and student-led inquiry.
- Students have opportunities to work collaboratively in small and large groups, as well as individually.
- Tasks are balanced between pre-planned structure and responsive, student-initiated learning.
- Classroom activities are culturally relevant and responsive.
- Learning experiences are connected to real-life examples and problems.
- Students have opportunities to learn and express learning in multiple ways (visual, verbal, physical, social, etc.).
- Activities prompt students to draw connections between different disciplines.
- There is a balance between open problems (which have no single answer) and closed problems (which generally do).
- Students have time to be inquisitive and explore new areas.
- Experiences are integrated with other initiatives around the school and community.
- Objectives of learning are clear and shared with students.
- Informative feedback is shared in an ongoing way with students to support their learning.
- Assessment is mostly used in support of learning, rather than to evaluate learning.
- Assessments make use of a wide array of student data (e.g. work products, observations and conversations).
- Students have opportunities to assess their peers’ and their own work.
- Students set goals and assess their own progress towards those goals.
Conditions within the school
- Student success in school includes development of citizenship, creativity, social emotional learning and health.
- The school ethos promotes mutual respect and equality of opportunity.
- Interactions across the school are characterized by respect and appreciation for individual differences.
- Active participation of students in all aspects of school life is integral to the operating social environment of the school.
- All aspects of the school (e.g. the schoolyard, sports teams, peer interactions, hallways) are recognized as learning environments.
- Teachers are trusted to ensure successful outcomes using professional knowledge and judgment.
- Teachers feel responsible for student learning, both individually and as a group.
- Student voice and input on school decisions is valued, sought, and used.
- The school is an open learning space in which community members outside of the school with diverse interests and resources/expertise work with students and staff.
- School-based structures are in place to identify and provide support for students dealing with social, emotional, learning, or mental health problems/disorders.
- Authority is shared across the school’s staff; it is not limited to formal leadership roles.
- School leadership values student voice and consults student government in school decision-making.
- Principals provide, and support the development of, instructional leadership among educators.
Professional learning for educators
- Professional learning is modeled and promoted by school leadership.
- There is space and time provided by school leadership for professional learning and collaboration in the daily workflow of teachers.
- Professional learning is self-directed and collaborative.
- Teacher professional learning is used to inform school direction, vision, and strategy.
- Professional learning is ongoing and embedded in work in ways that involve both:
- the use of data drawn from selected experiences within the classroom.
- risk taking and experimentation in educators’ practice.
Conditions beyond the school
Partnerships between school and community
- Parents feel included and respected in the school community.
- Clear and mutually beneficial agreements exist between schools and their community partners.
- Educators and community members (including parents) are actively involved in partnerships.
- Teachers enrich curriculum learning and contribute to work within the community through school-community partnerships.
- Partnerships provide experiential learning opportunities for students.
- Partnerships involve the mentorship of students during and beyond the scope of classroom projects.
- Students are aware of and can access programs and services for support with issues related to mental illness, bullying, and substance abuse.
- School-community partnerships support the appreciation of diversity and respect for people from different cultures and contexts.
Educators started using these competencies in their classrooms and schools to frame learning and assessment. Based on feedback from these field trials we have adjusted the language and structure of the competencies and conditions, and we continue to learn from our educators. See what they're doing with the competencies and conditions in Ontario schools.