Bringing Social Emotional Learning to Life in “Play is the Way”: Connecting Curricular Competencies, Theory, and Practice

Natasha Omori

Supervisor: Karen Ragoonaden

City: Merritt

Occupation: Teacher

Year: 2021


  • Curriculum
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Mindfulness and Wellbeing


Through qualitative action research, I argue that the Australian method, Play is the Way® (McCaskill, 2011) can be adapted to create conditions for students to develop skills and strategies specific to SEL and the core competencies in accordance with the redesigned BC curriculum. I first define social-emotional learning, outlining the competencies to be assessed. I then discuss theoretical models that support SEL connecting socio-cultural theory, Vygotsky’s (1978) Zones of Proximal Development and scaffolding, neuroscience, and The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) SEL framework to the foundation of the PITW® method. Finally, I discuss five themes identified through observation and reflective journaling: 1) Trusting relationships, 2) Transforming traditional rewards and punishment to behaviour education, 3) Game-based learning supports SEL and the core competencies, 4) Facilitation and 5) Cultural Identity. The intent of this project was to improve my own educational practices, understandings of these practices, and the situations in which I practice to improve the SEL for my students.

Student Biography

My name is Natasha Omori. I am a support services teacher at Merritt Secondary School, District 58 Nicola-Similkameen. I am also an avid fitness enthusiast and a single mom to an intelligent, beautiful, hardworking, daughter who is currently attending UBC Vancouver.