Assemble an SEL Team

By building an SEL team that reflects the school community and incorporates many points of view, the school will be better able to meet its needs and build commitment to SEL. Research has shown that diverse perspectives can foster innovation and learning among team members so they can solve problems faster (Reynolds et al., 2017). Consider assembling a team of five to ten members that includes:

  • A principal or assistant principal: It is strongly recommended that a committed administrator is involved in all team meetings. This ensures that the team’s work remains aligned with the larger goals of the school and district, facilitates decision-making, and communicates that the team’s work is important.
  • Teachers representing each grade band or subject area, special education and electives, as well as interventionists and/or coaches.
  • Teachers or teacher leaders who have data analysis skills.
  • Non-instructional staff who work closely with students, such as counselors, social workers, nurses, deans.
  • Other support staff such as security/safety officers, classroom assistants, clerks, and lunchroom and recess staff.
  • Out-of-school time providers and other community partners: Including partners who work closely with students in the community or during out-of-school time can help create aligned SEL language and strategies and increase the range of resources that can support students and staff.
  • Students and their families: Including student and family representatives helps ensure that the voices of those most affected by decisions are included in the vision and plan for SEL. Student and family representation is also critical for promoting a strengths-based and culturally relevant approach to SEL.

There is no one ‘right’ way to assemble a team. The main consideration is to create a team structure that makes the most sense for the school, represents the best use of staff’s time and resources, and gives voice to key stakeholder groups (Meyers et al.,  2018).

If you are deciding whether to create a new SEL team or lead SEL with a team that is already functioning, here are some questions to inform the decision:

  • Are there enough interested staff members who are not already active in other teams to form a new team?
  • Does the school’s vision for SEL align with the goals and purpose of any existing teams?
  • Could the core tasks of an SEL team (gather input from stakeholders, formalize an action plan, follow up on implementation steps and progress) fit into the structure followed by an existing team?
  • Are the members of an existing team willing to make necessary adjustments to their work and focus to lead SEL goal-setting, planning, and follow up?
  • An SEL team focuses on schoolwide systems that serve all students. CASEL strongly recommends that individual student needs are addressed by a specialized team (e.g. Student Support Team, Behavioral Health Team), separate from the SEL team.

The tool below will help you identify who should serve on the SEL team. The next section will help you Define Team Member Roles and Responsibilities.

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Assembling an SEL Team

This tool helps you identify potential SEL team members. You needn’t identify individuals for each role category as long as the team represents the entire school community.


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Supporting Student Members of the SEL Team

Including student members on an SEL team or any school leadership team primarily composed of adults requires a commitment from adults to support youth leaders, both during and between meetings.  This tool offers some ways that adults can create equitable space for students in their role on the SEL Team.

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