How can educators lean into the five SEL competencies as they connect and collaborate with families?
SELF-AWARENESS → with a focus on identity
“My identities impact how I perceive and navigate the world and how others perceive me. It is important to be aware of this and continue to explore and reflect on this.”
Example: A teacher considers how aspects of their own identity—a young professional, without children, commuting to work in a community they do not live in, among other aspects—may impact the way they are perceived by the families they serve. They recognize there is always a lot they don’t yet understand about families’ perspectives and experiences. They communicate directly, early, and often with families about how they appreciate and want the best for their child, show that they are interested and open to the family’s advice and concerns, and ask about and accommodate needs and culture (language, religious customs and holidays, communication style, physical needs, schedule, etc.).
SELF-MANAGEMENT → with a focus on agency
“I know I can have an impact and choose to act to improve conditions for myself and others. I will intentionally make room for others to act as well.”
Example: An assistant principal is facilitating a focus group with families about the school’s climate survey results. They present themselves as a co-learner in the discussion, showing vulnerability and receptivity as the group shares interpretations and adds context to the data. As they develop conclusions and recommendations, the assistant principal builds trust by clarifying next steps and committing to transparency as they use their positional power to advance the group’s recommendations.
SOCIAL AWARENESS → with a focus on belonging
“I am best able to contribute when I feel I am valued, welcomed, and an essential part of this community. It’s important to support others to feel this way too.”
Example: A school leadership team recognizes that families are far more likely to join partnership efforts when the school’s norms, values, and cultural representations reflect their own experiences (Atunez, 2000). Art, celebrations, and projects reflect the diversity of students’ home cultures. Events include activities for families to build community with one another. If many families speak a common language other than English, the school conducts meetings in that language and translates for English-speaking staff.
RELATIONSHIP SKILLS → with a focus on collaborative problem-solving
“I am more effective when I listen to others to understand problems and share ideas to develop solutions. The process of sharing power and working together is important to get to the best solution.”
Example: A team of school counselors recognizes that parents understand and know things they don’t know about their own children, their needs, and the community context. They believe that partnering with families will lead to better decisions and outcomes. When planning a family event, they partner with families as they plan activities and ask for their support with outreach.
RESPONSIBLE DECISION-MAKING → with a focus on curiosity
“I lean in with courage and choose to learn about myself, others, and the world. It is important to be open to and seek new information and perspectives when making decisions.”
Example: A teacher takes a learner stance when communicating with a parent or caregiver, recognizing them as the foremost expert about their child. They may say, “What would you like me to know about your child?” or “This is what I’ve noticed, this is what I’ve been trying to do to support your child so far. What are your thoughts on this?”