SEL Across America

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SEL Across America CASEL calls for the systemic integration of social and emotional learning Get ready, mainstream education. CASEL has developed a social and emotional learning (SEL) approach that aims to integrate academic, social and emotional learning across all contexts. It infuses SEL into all aspects of instruction and puts systemic SEL within reach of every preK‐12 school in the nation. Before you dismiss it as overly ambitious, consider this: 26 states are already on board. “SEL is being prioritized by more schools, but the effort is often very limited. Our new Guide to Schoolwide SEL ( makes possible a full implementation of systemic SEL,” says Melissa Schlinger, Vice President of Practice and Programs for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Since 1994, the nonprofit group has pushed for SEL in education via advocacy, research and practice. “SEL isn’t just touchy feely stuff, as many people think,” says Schlinger. “A landmark 2011 study of 270,000 students found an 11 percentile‐point gain in standardized achievement test scores. Students also showed improved attitudes towards themselves, others and school, positive classroom behavior and conduct, less emotional distress and more resilience to failure.” Another more recent study found kindergarteners who receive SEL are more likely to graduate from high school, get a college degree and obtain stable employment. They are less likely to abuse drugs, be incarcerated, live in public housing or receive public assistance. To put more wheels in motion, CASEL in 2016 launched its Collaborating States Initiative (CSI). Just two years later at a national CSI meeting, teams from 25 states attended representing 30 million students. CASEL's national Assessment Work Group team created a new Assessment Guide to help those teachers and administrators better understand SEL and choose the right framework for use in practice. It matches classroom data to specific recommended SEL measures, along with real‐world examples and an interactive forum for sharing advice. The transformative benefits of SEL speak for themselves, so schools that develop an action plan and prioritize this work tend to sustain the implementation—beyond staff retirements or other changes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that state‐, district‐ and schoolwide adoption of systemic SEL is not a sprint but a marathon. Full implementation takes at least 3‐5 years. “Teachers often ask me, ‘What can I do right now?’ Three signature SEL practices for classrooms and staff meetings include intentionally 1) creating a welcoming ritual, 2) add engaging and relevant activities, and 3) have an optimistic and reflective closure,” says Schlinger. “Start with the adults: teachers, custodians, security officers, anyone. It's a quick way to begin doing SEL. When used consistently, they can create conditions for growth and learning toward collaboration.” Marcus Garvey School At Marcus Garvey School on Chicago’s South Side, which has a 40% student mobility rate and 98% poverty, the principal has focused on providing explicit times in the school day to build SEL skills and ways to promote SEL while teaching subjects like math and science. They worked with families and

community to build awareness and commitment. They cultivated adult SEL in order to better promote it for students. The experience illustrates the power of systemic SEL in building up a child’s self‐management, social awareness, relationship and responsible decision‐making skills, regardless of environmental or resource constraints. Watch the video to learn more. “SEL is the link between behavior and academics. It plays a big role in achieving equity outcomes in schools. It engages students as meaningful actors in solving problems and making decisions. It creates a space of relationships and trust where kids feel valued and respected—and this might be our best hope for ending violence in schools,” says Schlinger. “I’m excited to make SEL part of American education.”

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