Students at OLS all have varying, and sometimes multiple learning disabilities. At times, these disabilities can cause difficulty with social interaction. When our Associate Dean started at OLS, she wanted to find a way to teach our students how to interact socially in different environments. Our experience as a teaching staff allowed us to quickly determine instruction in social skills was not going to work. Students were simply following the “rules” of social interaction, but were not able to socially adapt in varying situations.
So, we approached our instruction differently, as social skills are critical for success in the classroom, the internship, and after graduation. We began with a list of social skills determined by P21 as a framework to develop 15 Performance Indicators. We then incorporated social opportunities related to this list into every interaction we had with the student. Some examples of these skills are collaboration, open-mindedness, professionalism, and self-improvement. In time, we found that a social framework was required to incorporate these skills into all OLS instruction and student interaction. When that framework was in place, learning began to generalize into different situations, and the term Socially Infused Instruction was created.
In a socially infused classroom, each student brings their own individual social learning differences to a group dynamic. During the first day of class, an instructor skillfully facilitates a discussion regarding social norms for that class that will occur throughout the quarter, and makes sure that those norms correlate to the performance indicator framework. The instructor purposefully infuses these norms into each class session through group work, assignments, and class discussion, as well as independent study. Accountability factors in when something goes off course from those norms, and an instructor-led group discussion ensues. Additionally, peer pressure provides natural support for infusion, as it does elsewhere in society. Critical thinking regarding social norms and infusion into daily activities provides an opportunity for learning and generalization.
Socially infused classrooms at OLS lead to friendships, reliability, accountability and respectful behavior towards others – skills that are essential in the workplace and in life. Customized instruction in a uniquely supportive college environment, and the only accredited degree program of its kind are what sets OLS apart from the rest.
OLS® at Bellevue College – Skills for Work. Skills for Life.
Last Updated January 2, 2018