CASEL’s guidance has taught us that schools are more effective at teaching and reinforcing SEL for students when they also cultivate SEL competencies in adults. Your site’s implementation plan will likely call on many adults – from teachers to lunchroom staff to out-of-school time partners – to take an active role in learning about and promoting SEL. It’s critically important that school wide SEL implementation intentionally nurtures a work environment in which staff gains social and emotional competence through learning, collaborating, and modeling their social and emotional skills. It’s recommended that schools continuously assess their needs surrounding adult SEL and establish systems and supports that strengthen both adult and student SEL.
Focus Areas 2 of CASEL’s School Guide provides much guidance on adult SEL, but here are a few checkpoints to get started:
Where an out-of-school program exists, additional collaboration opportunities exist, including:
The goal of implementing SEL is to ensure that SEL practices and systems are firmly integrated into all operational aspects of the school. This is most likely to be achieved with a strong commitment to SEL implementation by all stakeholders and a common understanding that becoming an SEL campus is a long-term process. Our team has developed three primary implementation stages (Launching, Developing, and Sustaining) with indicators of progress at each stage. Each campus should reflect on its current status (or progress over time) through the SEL Implementation Survey to identify its implementation stage and to assist with the development of SEL goals.
A launching campus is at the beginning stages of SEL implementation and staff members are focused on learning about SEL competencies and skills, establishing systems and structures that create a climate and culture conducive to furthering SEL, and adopting the transformational mindsets necessary to implement comprehensive SEL. Depending on the results of its SEL Implementation Survey, a launching campus may not choose to begin explicit skills instruction during its first year of implementing SEL practices and approaches.
A developing campus sustains the preliminary SEL practices and systems from its initial implementation year, and focuses on refining SEL knowledge and campus-wide systems. Depending on capacity, a developing campus may begin rolling out regular, campus-wide SEL explicit skills instruction and participate in training around content integration.
A sustaining campus has reached a high-level of campus-based leadership, knowledge, and facilitation around social and emotional learning. The campus is sustaining practices and systems from previous years and drives its own SEL goal setting, planning, and progress monitoring. The SEL Steering Committee actively incorporates and monitors SEL practices on their campus, facilitates effective decision-making around campus-driven SEL goals and priorities, and intentionally guides students and staff in continual learning around SEL. Moreover, the campus develops strong partnerships with parents and, caregivers, and community partners by sharing ongoing SEL information and leading SEL-related engagement opportunities. Support from Dallas ISD’s SEL department includes SEL Coordinator-led consultation and coaching, professional development, and access to department resources.
With explicit instruction alignment in mind, Big Thought and Dallas Afterschool codeveloped an OST Pacing Guide, using the Sanford Harmony Focus Areas and the Dallas ISD weekly themes. The OST Pacing Guide consists of weekly lessons with four components:
Advances in neuroscience have led educators to better understand how the brain learns and leaves educators with this truth: All students are wired for expansive learning and self-determination. Culturally responsive teaching is necessary for optimizing learning opportunities. This book improves the awareness of educators to adopt strategies that bring relevance to the diverse students in our classrooms in order to support engagement and sense-making. The author has strong research around literacy, vocabulary development, and equity, and has designed culturally responsive tutor training programs aimed at volunteer reading tutors for a variety of nonprofit organizations. Additional information on the topic can be found on Hammond’s blog: crtandthebrain.com.
This book illustrates that language is one of the most powerful tools educators have to open the doors of possibilities for students. Our words become effective tools when we pay attention to our choice of words and tone of voice. The author presents compelling research and explanations that cause examination of habits and beliefs that can be barriers to student engagement and success. Examples of effective language provide a reference for educators to adopt that can transform classroom instruction toward SEL supported, student-centered learning.
Campus leadership can facilitate collective studies on selected initiatives through book studies. This practice provides a focused alignment of selected topics among educators, broadens learning, and improves teaching skills as educators read, explore, discuss, and reflect on common topics. Campuses can include OST and other community partners in the book studies to strengthen the circle of learning.
Academic mindsets are beliefs or ways of perceiving oneself in relation to learning, and lay the groundwork for deep academic, social and emotional learning. These mindsets are adopted by adults and children, through continuous reflection and discussion.