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Focus Area 1B

Create a Plan

Develop a shared vision, assess needs and resources, then develop a yearlong SEL implementation plan and budget.


After establishing foundational support for SEL, your team will move into the planning stage, where you’ll define your vision and how to achieve it. Clear goals and a robust plan will help turn a commitment to SEL into actual implementation that reaches every student. If you have not already established an SEL team, engaged in foundational learning, and set up structures to support two-way SEL communication with stakeholders, it’s important to do so before moving into the planning stage (see Focus Area 1A: Build Foundational Support).

Effectively planning for full-scale implementation of schoolwide SEL is driven by a collaborative process of continuous improvement that asks your team to reflect on the following questions:


Where do we want to go?
Focus Area 1B will support your team in answering this question by leading the school community in developing a SHARED VISION.


Where are we now, and where have we been?
In Focus Area 1B, your team will use the Schoolwide SEL Program and Initiative Inventory and the CASEL Schoolwide SEL Implementation Rubric to take stock of current efforts and engage in a NEEDS AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENT of SEL strategies that can be developed or improved.


How do we get from where we are now to where we want to be?
In Focus Area 1B, your team will develop an ACTION PLAN with clear benchmarks, action steps, roles, and timelines, then align your BUDGET to support this plan.


Are we moving in the right direction?  What are we learning on our journey?
You will engage in rapid learning cycles throughout implementation of Focus Areas 2 and 3, and deep reflection on your data and progress in Focus Area 4.


After completing the key activities in this focus area, you’ll use your plan to guide your next steps for implementation. Based on your priorities, it may be a good time to begin Focus Area 2: Strengthen Adult SEL and/or Focus Area 3: Promote SEL for Students. Note that you may want to work on both focus areas simultaneously, and that implementation will be a long-term, ongoing process.

If you are leading SEL in your school, district, or organization, learn more about how CASEL’s professional services can support your strategic plan for SEL implementation and continuous improvement.

Focus Area 1B

Administrator Action

While it’s tempting to develop a plan for schoolwide SEL on your own or with a small, internal team, by intentionally involving all stakeholders, administrators can create true collaboration where …More

While it’s tempting to develop a plan for schoolwide SEL on your own or with a small, internal team, by intentionally involving all stakeholders, administrators can create true collaboration where everyone has a say in how the school approaches schoolwide SEL. When everyone is on board, leaders are more likely to get an outcome that everyone is comfortable with.  With this approach, leaders can get:

  • Better decisions—Multiple perspectives contribute to the outcome.
  • Better group relationships—When we make decisions collaboratively and cooperatively, we’re more likely to make decisions that everyone can embrace while maximizing engagement among all stakeholders.
  • Better implementation of decisions—When we achieve widespread agreement and everyone has participated in the process, strong levels of participation follow.
  • An opportunity to practice and model social and emotional competencies throughout the development process.

Collaborative decision-making doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone comes to a unanimous decision. The goal is to reach decisions that the group can accept, not necessarily a decision that fulfills every member’s wishes. This may mean that administrators need to keep an open mind and take a more collaborative role.

Administrator Actions:

  • With your SEL team, use the CASEL Schoolwide SEL Rubric to reflect on your current level of schoolwide SEL implementation, existing needs, and resources.
  • Involve all stakeholders, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented and most affected by decisions, in creating an implementation plan for schoolwide SEL.
  • Ensure appropriate budget and other resources are allocated to support SEL goals and implementation.
  • Plan for ongoing professional learning and two-way communication that supports SEL practices.

Administrator Resources:

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