The Need & the Opportunity
Research and experience have shown that a safe, healthy, and equitable school climate that integrates the cultivation of students’ social and emotional development with academic teaching and learning correlates with higher student attendance and engagement, improved student connectedness, and better social and emotional health. These conditions also correlate with greater job satisfaction and higher retention for school staff. Given the critical role of SEL and school safety in children’s overall well-being and feelings about school, increasing numbers of policymakers, educators, and other practitioners are viewing these as another pathway for school improvement.
In our first six months, the SEL Center has conducted a listening tour with the field. We have surveyed and interviewed practitioners, the comprehensive center network, several regional education laboratories, state and local education agencies, service providers, and other thought leaders, to understand the most urgent and important needs of the field. Several key themes and insights are emerging from our conversations, including:
There is a desire for clear connections between SEL, school safety, and academic outcomes, as well as strategies to weave the work together so that SEL and school safety do not exist in a silo or feel like an additional responsibility.
There is a desire to clearly articulate SEL and school safety’s relationship with other whole child initiatives, such as school climate, trauma-informed practices, inclusive discipline approaches, 21st-century skills, and personalized learning.
There is a desire for compelling language to discuss this work that is both tailored for the unique perspectives and needs of different audiences and holds to rigorous and clear definitions of terms.
- Educator SEL Competencies
There is a need for greater supports for teachers and other child-serving professionals along their entire career. For example, new teachers would benefit from strategies to notice and attend to the SEL and safety needs of the children in their classrooms. Established teachers would benefit from strategies for self and collective care to make their work more sustainable.
We have designed a three-tiered approach to technical assistance.
The Center website, which serves as the “home” for our general tier of technical assistance, will curate tools, resources and publications, as well as evidence-based programs and practices, all intended to address the field’s most important and urgent needs.
The Center will also offer tailored professional learning and networks of practice of varying intensities, in consultation with thought leading subject matter experts.
The Center will work in extended partnership with 1-2 SEAs or LEAs to design and implement sustainable strategies and initiatives related to the priorities of the Center.
We will disseminate what we learn together in our targeted and intensive tiers on this website, so that it is universally available.