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Road Map for K-12 Education

Strategies for Supporting Social and Emotional Learning Summer, 2020 V.1.0

Strategies for Supporting Social and Emotional Learning This Health Promotion strategy is about supporting students’ long-term mental health and well-being.1 COVID-19 has made it increasingly apparent that schools are not only places for learning; they are community centers, food distribution hubs, and spaces that provide services that support both physical and mental health.

Authors / Summer - 2020 Rachael Dumas K-12 Research Knowledge Manager

Erika Eitland , ScD, MPH Research Analyst 2

Upholding social-emotional learning (SEL) will be especially important as schools begin to recover from the current health crisis, as there is strong evidence that these programs contribute to academic success and reduce emotional and behavioral challenges.2 Student health is both physical and emotional. Research and neuroscience data reveal that social emotional learning is vital to the development of healthy learning environments. This research informs our understanding of how architecture can shape behavior and either improve or hinder social interactions. When students return to school, we must provide safe opportunities for informal, social interactions as they are an integral part of a rich learning environment. Physical, social, and behavioral strategies, such as visual cues, checklists, and classroom policies, can reinforce healthy habits for students,teachers, and staff. Goals of the Following Strategies: • Strengthen emotional, interpersonal, and cognitive skills and well-being. • With low-cost or no-cost attached to them, support compliance with social distancing and limit opportunities for cross-contamination of surfaces during high-density times and places.

Educational Adaptation

Health Promotion

Risk Mitigation


Social and Emotional Learning For more than 30 years, schools have adopted socialemotional learning (SEL) to support the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to manage emotions, set and achieve goals, understand and show compassion for others, maintain healthy relationships, and make positive decisions. Research shows that incorporating SEL into schools improves academic performance and reduces depression and stress among students.3

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful. For more information about coping during this time, check out the Centers for Disease

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Supporting Social and Emotional Learning

01 ― Create a sense of community within a classroom Educators Can... nj  Use the re-entry period to engage students in co-creating the space and shaping new classroom norms that will allow them to safely interact with one another by creating artwork, charts, and graphics around best practices. nj  Enlist students to help create a cleaning checklist for the classroom and their room at home. Develop a plan that outlines how they can help create a clean environment. This should include when to clean, how to clean, where to clean, and who is cleaning.

Tip: For younger students,

nj  Send home pictures of the new classroom set-up for parents and guardians

consider color coding or

to review with their children before school starts. Include a brief narrative

infographics for shared and

that explains protocols, cleaning and distancing measures, and include

not shared items or bins. Students

images of what to look out for.

should have personalized

nj  Discuss what materials can be shared (trash can, tissues, etc.) and what cannot (art supplies, writing utensils). nj  Establish a student agreement for older students that includes strategies for keeping classmates and teachers safe.

Parents Can... nj  Establish a parent agreement per classroom4 that includes strategies for parents that can be performed at home to support school safety. This agreement could be signed at the beginning of the year to build cohesive and supportive community best practices. If parents are not able to provide the necessary resources, the school assists when possible. nj  Perform daily health checks (taking student’s temperature and checking for respiratory symptoms) at home before class to prevent delays.5 nj  Create a phone/email tree for rapid communication between parents and teachers outside of school hours in case a student or family member is showing symptoms. nj  Wash students’ clothes and PPE regularly. For students experiencing homelessness, provide in-school laundry services or credit for laundromats nj  Have extra PPE available if student forget or damage their own.


individual bins to house supplies.

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” -Dr. James P.Comer, Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale University (Comer, J. (1995). Lecture given at Education Service Center, Region IV. Houston, TX.)


Supporting Social and Emotional Learning

02 ― Provide stress reducing activities throughout the day, such as noncompetitive physical activity, moments of sharing, or relaxation exercises (stretching, moments of silence, chair yoga, etc.)

03 ― Emphasize holistic student and staff health, as COVID-19 may cause anxiety and fear about being in school. Educators Can... nj  Frame conversations and training around heathy habits rather than illness prevention. nj  Create fun games that show the rules so that students are always “playing the game” rather than fearing the germ. nj  Invite students and families to be part of the solution by suggesting other strategies that help them feel safe. nj  Provide anonymous platforms such as a hotline, website, or texts to a counselor for students to seek help managing emotions. nj  Provide advance notice wherever possible to limit the unknowns for anyone with anxiety or autism. nj  Promote involvement in the school and the community by providing opportunities for contribution such as volunteer programs or athletics. nj  Develop routines that create habits that cultivate interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. nj  Redefine clubs to support virtual interactions. nj  Create flexible attendance policies that allow people to self-quarantine and participate in remote learning as needed. Students will not be penalized or face stigma or discrimination across school or classroom.6


Supporting Social and Emotional Learning

04 ― Use outdoor spaces to reduce anxiety and stress, promote physical activity, and enhance learning. nj  Maximize the use of your school grounds and surrounding community assets such as parks, gardens, outdoor classrooms, trails, etc. for outdoor education and play. nj  Students with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties using outdoor learning environments showed improvement in SEL skills including selfmanagement, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision-making.7 nj  Small changes in the outdoors can expand outdoor learning opportunities. Simple ideas include bales of straw, picnic tables, shade umbrellas, hula hoops on the grass for social distancing, and bringing clipboards or whiteboards outside.8

05 ― Create opportunities that stimulate the senses. nj  Provide space for active and passive engagement and allow children to explore through visual, auditory, and tactile experiences. nj  Keep explanations simple and accessible New rules and strategies given without context or reason make them harder for students to follow. Ensure educators are comfortable answering questions about coronavirus with accurate information from trusted sources like the CDC or state health department. Do not enable a culture of fear with inaccurate information. nj  Educators can: ‒  Create curriculum, play games, or provide research on how germs spread. This will provide a context and offer new experiences in a memorable way. Taking a positive, solutions-oriented approach can support student involvement and reduce fear or anxiety. ‒  Provide time for questions about each strategy that students or teachers are to adopt.


― Resources

Brock, L. L., Nishida, T. K., Chiong, C., Grimm, K. J., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2008). Children’s perceptions of the classroom environment and social and academic performance: A longitudinal analysis of the contribution of the Responsive Classroom Approach (abstract). Journal of School Psychology, 46, 129-149. Durlak, J., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions (PDF). Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. Dusenbury, L., & Weissberg R. P. (2017). Social Emotional Learning in Elementary School: Preparations for Success. Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University. Elias, M. J. (2003). Academic and social-emotional learning (PDF). International Academy of Education, International Bureau of Education (Educational Practices Series-11). Frey, K. S., Nolen, S. B., Van Schoiack Edstrom, L., & Hirschstein, M. K. (2005). Effects of a school-based social-emotional competence program: Linking children’s goals, attributions, and behavior (Abstract). Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 171-200. Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: the relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283-2290. Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2017). Improving Social Emotional Skills in Childhood Enhances Long-Term WellBeing and Economic Outcomes. Price, A. (2019). Using outdoor learning to augment social and emotional learning (SEL) skills in young people with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19(4), 315-328. doi: Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Fan, X., Chiu, Y-J., & You, W. (2007). The contribution of the Responsive Classroom approach on children’s academic achievement: Results from a three-year longitudinal study (PDF). Journal of School Psychology, 45, 401-421.


Supporting Social and Emotional Learning

― References 1



Durlak, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., & Schellinger, K.B. (2011). “The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions.” Child Development, 82, pp.405-432.




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8 af/1590122565462/20-05-21_USA-CovidResponse-GSA-2pg.pdf

← Hollis Innovation Academy, Atlanta Public Schools, Atlanta, Georgia


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Road Map for K-12 Education - Strategies for Supporting Social and Emotional Learning  

Road Map for K-12 Education - Strategies for Supporting Social and Emotional Learning  

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