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SEL implementation would not be possible without having the appropriate systems and structures in place. Additionally, we need to continuously evaluate our efforts to continue to improve. This section provides details on recommended systems, structures and continuous improvement for your SEL implementation.

Although it will always be crucial to train adults on SEL practices and related information (neuroscience, trauma-informed practices and approaches, best practices for facilitating out of school enrichment time, etc.), training alone cannot guide campus growth and expertise in SEL implementation.  For teams to successfully reach their designated SEL goals and save time and space for iterative improvements, campuses will need to set up sustainable systems, structures, and leadership.  Moreover, SEL cannot be the sole responsibility of a principal or only one person at a campus so it is valuable to develop a team with collective responsibility around leading SEL efforts at a site.

Establish a diverse and representative SEL Steering Committee that leads a coordinated approach, ensuring schoolwide, comprehensive SEL implementation.

The SEL Steering Committee serves the following functions:

SEL Goal Setting

Develop collective SEL goals with input from in-school and out-of-school-time partners.

  • Consider using a document like the SEL Roadmap for identifying goals and actions steps. Additionally, CASEL has developed SMARTIE goal guidance to help with designing clear, actionable SEL goals.
  • We encourage steering committees to review their goals during regular meetings to reflect on needs, progress, and next steps.
  • Remember to communicate campus SEL goals across all in- and out-of-school-time staff members so that everyone is knowledgeable about SEL focus areas. Consider incorporating specific SEL goals into Campus Improvement Plans.


SEL Implementation Planning

Identify action steps to reach campus-defined SEL goals such as scheduling training for staff, identifying point people to prepare for and facilitate SEL Steering Committee meetings, scheduling and facilitating campus learning walks for observing SEL practices, etc.


Data Review for Continuous Improvement:

Review campus data regularly (e.g., discipline, attendance, stakeholder survey results, and SEL implementation efforts); facilitate the capacity of practitioners to reflect on and use different data sources; and discuss continuous improvement efforts based on data and campus trends.


SEL Modeling and Advocacy:

Model SEL practices whenever possible (e.g., signature practices in meetings, etc.) and encourage other adults to do so as well.

  1. Advocate for ongoing refinement of SEL practices at the campus/site for the benefit of students and staff members.
  2. Continue learning about SEL practices and related topics to inform continuous improvement efforts, support students and staff members, and collect new best practices.

The SEL Steering Committee can be a separate group or combined with a campus committee charged with overseeing the climate and culture of the campus.


The team should consist of:


1. At least five diverse members of the campus community including, but not limited to: an administrator, a counselor, an out-of-school-time representative, the campus community liaison, teachers that represent different grade-levels and electives, support staff, a community member and/or parent, and/or student(s).

  • When forming the team, consider the following guiding questions:
    • Does this team represent all key stakeholders on campus and in the community?
    • Does this team have a healthy balance of people that have the capacity to do the work vs. manage the work?
  •  Consider forming a separate student SEL Steering Committee, and schedule combined meetings as appropriate to incorporate student voice in campus/site decision-making.


2. At least one champion and co-champion, designated by campus leadership. Both Champions should participate as members of the steering committee.


  • Roles of the Champion and Co-Champion: Organize and facilitate the SEL Steering Committee meetings, support the SEL team in keeping the campus on track to achieve implementation goals, and serve as the main points of contact with Dallas ISD SEL Coordinator.
  • Role of Lead Administrator: Advocates for and ensures alignment between SEL and overall school improvement efforts, communicates SEL initiatives to the leadership team and entire campus, and serves as the main point of contact for the Dallas ISD SEL Coordinator to organize schoolwide professional development.

Roles & Responsibilities:

Establish collaborative roles for steering committee meetings such as meeting facilitator, notetaker/timekeeper, and greeter/closer. Outlining these roles (and rotating responsibilities for these roles each meeting) is a great way to promote equity of voice, leadership, and adult practice of SEL.

Defining clear roles and responsibilities helps ensure that everyone on the team feels a sense of ownership and belonging, and knows how to best support the work. It also helps to create productive team meetings and share the work equitably.

  • Note that the role of SEL “champion" is not synonymous with sole decision-maker. Instead, the team can be most productive when allowing feedback from multiple stakeholders, using both qualitative and quantitative data to inform.


Distributive Leadership:

As a best practice for any group meeting, be sure to clarify what the next steps are before closing each steering committee meeting and ensure that responsibilities are distributed across members of the group to avoid overloading one or two members with additional responsibilities.


SEL Modeling:

Remember to model SEL signature practices during steering committee meetings (welcoming, engaging practices, and optimistic closures) so that these practices become an established meeting norm. Visit the Appendix for more SEL Signature Practice information and ideas.


Meeting Materials:

We recommend that meeting materials be saved in a shared folder (e.g., Google Drive or Dropbox folder) for campus staff and external partners to access, review, and edit as needed.

  • The SEL Steering Committee serves as a model for positive and productive practices that promote healthy relationships among adults, students, and families. It’s highly beneficial to build a strong team dynamic and positive working relationship by developing (and adhering to) group norms and team routines.
  • For professional development related to building a healthy team, please contact the Social and Emotional Learning department.

In summary, here are key tasks for beginning SEL implementation at your campus with your SEL Steering Committee:

  • The principal and key campus leadership should reflect on their campus status with their Dallas ISD SEL Coordinator using the SEL Implementation Survey. This reflection can happen either at the end of the school year to inform planning for the next school year or at the beginning of a new school year.
  • Recruit SEL Steering Committee members, inclusive of in- and out-of-school-time representatives.
  • Schedule steering committee meetings for the upcoming school year. We recommend meeting at least once every six weeks, if not monthly.
  • Once the SEL Implementation Tool is complete, convene your steering committee to identify SEL goals (using SEL Roadmap template). During the school year, reflect on progress made towards the identified SEL goals during committee meetings, and ask steering committee members for feedback and troubleshooting advice.
  • Participate in ongoing Principal / Dallas ISD SEL Coordinator check-in meetings to discuss SEL progress, successes, and challenges each semester.

Here are the resources for the appendix:

SEL Implementation Tool:

The SEL Implementation Tool is a key tool for reflection and guiding implementation progress on a campus.  The survey is not meant to “grade” campuses in SEL progress but rather serve as a planning and discussion tool around what strong SEL implementation “looks and feels like” on a campus. District SEL Coordinators facilitate reflection discussions with campus leaders at the start, middle, and end of the school year to guide broad goal setting and reflection for a campus.

SEL Roadmap:

The campus SEL Roadmap provides an opportunity to map out action steps, team member responsibilities, and timing for site-based SEL goals.  Roadmap goals are developed by campus SEL leadership in collaboration with community partners, OST representatives, and a district SEL representative.  The Roadmap supplements the SEL Implementation Survey by outlining more detail and step-by-step action planning to break down large goals into achievable steps and tasks.


Afterschool Quality Advancement:

Afterschool Quality Advancement (AQuA) contains research-based best practices for operating a high quality afterschool program. The rigorous AQuA tool consists of 74 indicators grouped into 10 elements, which cover a variety of topics from relationships to fundraising.


AQuA’s best practices are grouped into the following categories:

  • Environment & Climate
  • Relationships
  • Programming & Activities
  • Administration & Organization
  • Staffing & Professional Development
  • Linkages Between Day and Afterschool
  • Youth Participation & Engagement
  • Parent, Family & Community Partnerships
  • Program Sustainability & Growth
  • Measuring Outcomes


Dallas Afterschool supports its clients in their efforts to master all of these quality elements and achieve certification. Some indicators are measured at a site level, others at the organizational level, and the remaining indicators receive a score at both levels (in those cases, the lower of the two scores is selected). There are four performance levels in AQuA, ranging from “1” (the lowest) to “4” (the highest). A score of “3” is needed to pass an indicator. Any score of “1” or more than one “2”, in an element will keep a site from mastering that element. All 10 elements must be mastered to reach certification.


Organizational indicator scores are captured in a separate interview with organization leadership. Site indicators are addressed at the site assessment, which includes an interview (typically completed 1 hour prior to programming) and an observation of one afternoon of programming. The full AQuA tool is distributed to all partners, containing a breakdown of each of the 74 indicators. This breakdown details what is needed in each indicator for the various scoring levels. This allows each site to look up what each indicator looks like according to best practices. 


For more information on AQuA, please feel free to reach out to the Dallas Afterschool Director of Research and Evaluation, Lauren Ammons at or (214) 546-1292


Six Dimensions of Quality Teaching and Learning

Six Dimensions of Quality Teaching and Learning (6DQ) was created in 2006 by members of the Dallas arts and science education community who serve children in and out of school. As a community, the partners of Big Thought sought a collective understanding for what constitutes high-quality teaching and learning. By teaching and learning, we specifically mean the instruction that takes place, and the interaction between the instructor and students. We believe that when we engage in high-quality teaching and learning, we increase students’ ability to explore and solve problems, design a better future, express themselves, experience beauty, imagine possibilities, and be inspired. Research shows that creative children have more consistent school attendance, higher academic achievement, and may be primed for greater leadership and community involvement.

To reap these benefits, educators and students must engage in high-quality teaching and learning. The 6DQ rubric is used as a guide to help instructors craft lesson plans, administrators design programs, observers rate teaching, and for coaches to support continual improvement of instruction.


The Six Dimensions are:

Supports for Learning

1. Climate that Supports Learning

2. Engagement and Investment in Learning Resources for Creativity and Innovations


Resources for Creativity and Innovations

3. Classroom Dialogue and Sharing

4. Skills, Techniques, and Knowledge of the Discipline

5. Creative Choices

6. Expectations, Assessment and Recognition

To learn more about the Six Dimensions of Quality Teaching and Learning, visit


OST Coaching/Feedback Model

The Weikart Center’s Assess/Plan/Improve Model and Observation Reflection Method


OST Professional Learning Series

Youth Work Methods Series

Youth Work Methods offers two to three-hour workshops delivered using the participatory learning method that is central to our philosophy. The topics align with the items of the PQA tool and provide frontline staff with practical skills that they can implement immediately.



Series of six half- and full-day trainings focused on SEL overview and adult acquisition



School Year Kickoff, Second Semester Kickoff, Summer Kickoff


Learning Walks

Learning walks are an opportunity for a diverse team of participants, including school leaders, teachers, OST partners, external partners, among others, to observe current SEL practices at a campus and collectively share their observations and learning for continual improvement. Learning walks are not meant to penalize site staff; they serve as a chance to observe which SEL practices are currently being applied and to what degree, and to understand site-based innovations and iterations in applying SEL practices to specific learning environments. This is a useful strategy to inform SEL Steering Committee and leadership decision-making around site strengths, needs, and ongoing professional development for SEL implementation.



a. Learning walk protocol (adapted from the University of Pittsburgh “Principles of Learning”)

b. SEL Dallas Learning Walk observation tool