Partnerships are a key component of SEL Dallas. This sections provides details about the roles of the partner organizations, and the roles led by in and out of school time staff. This section also gives practical recommendations for how to develop strong partnerships.
The Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) sits in the heart of a large, diverse and dynamic region and comprises 384 square miles. Dallas ISD is the second-largest public school district in the state of Texas, and the 14th-largest district in the nation. Dallas ISD serves as the lead educational partner and co-fiscal agent for the PSELI grant in Dallas. The Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Department oversees social and emotional learning implementation for the district, including PSELI grant implementation, with the goal of scaling these critical systems and practices district-wide by 2025. Dallas ISD’s Extended Learning Opportunities Department is also an integral partner in supporting the out of school time components of the work.
Big Thought is an impact education organization focused on closing the opportunity gap and equipping all youth in marginalized communities with the skills, competencies, and experiences necessary for them to imagine and create their best lives and world. Big Thought serves as the co-fiscal agent of the PSELI grant, along with Dallas ISD, overseeing the coordination and implementation of the grant with a focus on the out of school time components. Big Thought shares, in collaboration with Dallas Afterschool, the out of school time intermediary functions of the project, providing on-site coaching and technical assistance, co-creating and delivering professional development and curricular resources.
Dallas Afterschool has a mission to increase the quality and availability of afterschool and summer programs in the Dallas community. Dallas Afterschool works with 35 different nonprofits and over 180 afterschool and summer program sites annually to provide coaching, training and resources through their Program Quality Initiative to ensure that programs are more likely to observe positive outcomes for students. Dallas Afterschool, shares in collaboration with Big Thought, the out of school time intermediary functions, supporting program quality, and co-creating and delivering professional development and curricular resources.
The Dallas Park and Recreation Department offers after school programming at select Dallas ISD partnering schools, including 5 of the 7 PSELI grant Phase I sites, providing academic and recreational programs that expose youth to a wide variety of activities that will help broaden their interest and challenge them to learn and master new skills; thus increasing self-esteem. Dallas Park and Recreation plays an integral role in implementing SEL practices, testing tools and resources, and providing feedback.
The instructional leader of a campus, the Principal must embody and model social and emotional learning to ensure campus-wide buy-in and continuous improvement efforts (for both staff members and students). This leader ensures that all campus staff members and relevant stakeholders have ongoing opportunities to become knowledgeable around the value, benefit, and practices of SEL, as well as guides SEL planning, goal setting, and implementation efforts for his/her campus.
The principal of a campus identifies one or more staff members to contribute to campus-wide SEL planning, skill building, and ongoing development of SEL-focused systems and processes. SEL Champions may be teachers, counselors, and/or assistant principals, and are selected to support campus leadership by participating in SEL Steering Committees and supporting professional development efforts. By identifying one or more SEL Champions, principals can build greater capacity and develop a team of adults focused on embedding SEL into all aspects of a campus (academics, operations, family engagement, training and development, etc.).
The SEL Coordinator is a central office staff member, representing the Social and Emotional Learning department, who serves as a consultant and facilitator for campuses implementing SEL. The coordinator provides a combination of ongoing training, coaching, observations/feedback, and strategic planning support for campus-based SEL implementation. The coordinator also partners closely with campus leadership, SEL Steering Committee, and the SEL Specialist to support campus capacity-building and implementation.
The Quality Advisor assesses the safety and quality of afterschool programming, so that students can thrive, while also supporting afterschool partners to improve SEL implementation through coaching, training, curriculum, technical assistance, and teaching resources (both at the site-level and school-wide).
The OST Supervisor develops and implements quality recreation programs that meet the needs of the public as well as the long and short-term goals of the district. This role has been influential with out of school time staff buy-in of the SEL framework and practices. OST leadership has designated time and opportunities for direct staff to receive SEL professional development and consultation of SEL best practices.
The OST site lead supports OST leadership with site level program quality, compliance, and SEL implementation. Site leads are front line staff trained extensively on the SEL framework; they act as thought partners to the SEL Specialists in developing practical and proficient elements that would overall positively impact the culture in which the program is run.
The SEL Specialist assists schools with cultivating an environment and culture that supports, teaches, and reinforces the SEL framework during the school day and during out of school time. The specialist provides oversight of SEL implementation and coordination at a given campus, while supporting OST partners with programmatic development and compliance for an optimized impact of SEL.
The SEL Dallas team recommends the following list of best practices to build collaborative partnerships that support sustainability and develop aligned SEL programs, practices, professional development, and related coaching for successful SEL implementation at a campus.
All partners should describe their goals for students and staff, priorities, and information about what their “typical day” looks like or other general operating expectations. Regular communication also provides all partners with the chance to share feedback on progress and / or identify if there are opportunities for improvement. Consider scheduling regular check-in times among relevant partners to ensure that SEL-focused conversations are timely, relevant, and iterative over the course of a school year.
When in-school and OST partners align their time and efforts around common SEL training and subsequent continuous improvement, the entire campus strengthens its collective SEL knowledge and reinforces student SEL skill development across an entire school day (for example, all staff members at a campus are focused on implementing Signature Practices during the fall semester). We recommend inviting in-school and OST leadership to all SEL implementation discussions and related decision-making meetings to ensure that multiple perspectives are shared and common goals are identified for an entire campus.
When you recruit participants for a Steering Committee, remember to include all relevant in- and out of school time partners who may contribute to SEL implementation, training development, and refinement of practices. The Steering Committee is also a capacity-building opportunity to build a larger team of SEL experts on a campus and collect multi-faceted input around decision-making. (See Section V for detailed information on Steering Committees)
Campuses and OST programs may have various avenues for communicating about their work: regular staff meetings, parent / family events, social media, online / print newsletters, and other announcements.