How to Make the Most of SEL Tools
- By Amy Jackson, Sarah Brown
learning (SEL) remains a top priority in K–12 education. One recent
that teachers believe in the value of SEL for academic success and
well-being, and see it as a tool that’s helpful for the transition
back to in-person instruction.
Gaining Substantial Traction in K-12
is complex, however — and educators already have a lot on their
plates. To launch and supplement social-emotional learning
initiatives, districts are investing in SEL tools, curriculum and
similar resources — with adoption and spending rising
since the beginning of the pandemic.
are several considerations for district leaders as they work to make
the most of current funding opportunities to maximize the impact of
SEL for educators
evidence behind SEL is clear — but its impact is dependent on the
support educators receive as they are teaching and monitoring SEL.
Every time we talk about the importance of student SEL and
well-being, there’s an
conversation about educators.
pandemic has exacerbated existing stressors and introduced new
traumas, and educators who are socially and emotionally competent are
better equipped to navigate these challenges. They are also set up to
help their students reap the benefits of SEL.
introducing a SEL tool, curriculum or initiative, district and school
leaders should work alongside teachers — ensuring their voices are
heard and their needs will be appropriately met. Just as much as
everyone agrees that SEL support is essential for students, we also
agree that it’s equally as essential that we do not add unnecessary
stressors to educators. New efforts and tools should be supportive
and solve problems. Senior research scientist Tricia Maas provides
additional guidance in an
all else, education leaders need to establish high-trust environments
in their schools. Such environments can be developed through
nurturing a shared vision, effective communication, distributed
leadership practices and choosing professional development approaches
that promote relationship-building. Leaders may begin this work by
implementing an SEL program for adults that helps staff members build
trust, manage stress and attend to equity.”
universal screening for SEB and
schools already conduct universal screening to identify students who
are “at risk” of not meeting standards in core subjects, like
reading or math. Increasingly, schools are using similar approaches
to evaluate social-emotional behavior (SEB).
screening is just the first step. After data are available, they need
to be acted upon. Analyzing SEB and academic screening data together
helps reveal a plethora of insights — including the efficacy of
Tier 1 efforts, resource allocation needs and identification of
students in need of SEB or academic intervention to succeed.
visualizations to track and communicate progress
connected, SEB and academic data provide a more informed view of
student, school and system needs.
to transform data into specific insights and action steps, districts
can monitor and share these data visually (e.g., graph). Seeing
certain datasets — like attendance, SEB, school climate and grades
— next to one another can reveal additional insights.
approach is also useful for
updates to external stakeholders, including students’ families.
to know about SEL funding opportunities
of its inextricable connection to student success and potential to
promote equity and student well-being, SEL is eligible for a variety
of grant and funding opportunities, including and especially pandemic
are some tips to keep in mind:
activity authorized under major federal laws including ESEA and IDEA
is an allowable use of ESSER funds.
Rescue Plan (ARP)
specifically directs state and local education agencies to invest in
“activities and interventions that respond to students’
academic, social and emotional needs”.
it is finite, pandemic relief is ideal for investments that are
sustainable and provide lasting impact — and SEL tools, curriculum
and training are a good place to start.
using ESSER for hiring staff, consider the potential impact of
(and plan investments accordingly).
Funding Resources to Implement SEL
(Classroom Champions via Medium)
won’t know the full
of the pandemic on student learning for some time — but the need
for effective tools to support SEB is clearly there.
get the most out of SEB tools, districts should focus on using data
to generate insights, inform action and drive continuous improvement.
By doing so, they’ll reach an ideal point of understanding
regarding system and student SEL needs — and make a lasting impact
on both student and educator success.