Districts: 10 essential areas of focus for systemic SEL implementation

As awareness spreads about the multiple benefits of socioemotional learning (SEL) for students and staff alike, a growing number of districts are adopting systemic strategies that embed SEL into every aspect of school life.

According to Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), they are building SEL into their strategic plans and budgets. The role of SEL is to help school leaders create a positive climate that will keep students safe and promote learning. School leaders are using SEL to inform classroom instruction and strengthen teacher-student relationships. And SEL is driving their collaborations with families and community partners.

CASEL’s comprehensive district framework identifies 10 essential areas of focus for systemic SEL implementation throughout a district. Districts that implemented these components saw improvements in school climate, behavior, attendance, graduation rate, and academic achievement. Here are the 10:

  1. Communicate SEL as a priority to stakeholders.

Districts need well-designed systematic communications’ plan to engage all stakeholders internally and externally. They understand and fully support SEL for all students.

  1. Develop a districtwide vision and plan.

The shared vision statement helps districts develop a shared language, understanding, and ownership for prioritizing SEL for all students. It serves as an inspirational call to action for district staff and stakeholders.

  1. Align financial and human resources.

Districts must identify the resources that will be needed now and in the future, such as the financial and human capacity to plan, implement, and assess the impact of SEL and the material resources needed for direct implementation with students.

  1. Develop central office expertise and capacity.

Key leaders throughout the district must have the expertise to plan, implement, and integrate socioemotional learning (SEL) throughout their daily work. Districts must develop this widespread capacity, including knowledge in SEL theory, research, and practice.

  1. Conduct SEL related needs and resources assessment.

Districts conduct a needs and resource assessment focused on socioemotional learning (SEL) prior to implementation to take stock of what the district is doing. The assessment documents all existing SEL programs and practices in order to integrate all components of effective SEL and facilitate systemic change.

  1. Design and implement effective professional development programs.

Districts must develop and implement a coordinated professional development program that addresses academic, social, and emotional learning capacity development for all staff at the individual, school, and district levels.

  1. Integrate SEL with district initiatives.

Integration of SEL is key to its sustainability, and it increases the impact SEL can have for students. High-functioning districts align, integrate, and implement SEL in conjunction with all other district initiatives and priorities, including curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

  1. Adopt and implement evidence-based programs.

Districts must identify the ways in which social and emotional learning (SEL) supports ongoing district priorities. This is particularly important for high-quality instructional practices and multi-tiered student supports. Integration of SEL is key to its sustainability, and it increases the impact SEL can have for students.

  1. Establish K-12 SEL standards.

SEL learning standards and benchmarks articulate what students should know and be able to do in SEL from PreK to grade 12 and allow districts to outline intersections of SEL with standards in academic content areas. Districts should share these standards with staff, students, and parents.

  1. Establish systems for continuous improvement.

A high-functioning district systematically collects data from all schools on SEL program implementation, students’ social and emotional competence, and school climate. Central office staff and school teams reflect on these data and take them into account in changing practices.

School districts have the great challenge of implementing successful socio-emotional programs at all their schools. Therefore, they should only choose the best available resources such as Eldventir SEL platform, an integral program that develops socioemotional skills in elementary and middle school students. Eldventir Adventures is available in  two languages: English and Spanish for the purpose of developing relevant skills for all students, such as the more than 5 million English Language Learners ELL’s (students who use another language in addition to, or other than, English), who currently attend in public schools in the U.S.

Eldventir Adventures provides a gamified experience for students, is friendly and easy to use for teachers and easy to monitor for head administrators. For further information about SEL learning along with tips for developing social-emotional skills at your school, click here and contact paula.sanchez@visionaria.com to run a free Empathy pilot within your educational community.


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