To promote students’ social and emotional competence, it’s important for schools to simultaneously foster a supportive staff environment that cultivates the social and emotional competence and capacity of the adults in the building.
Through the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI), CASEL has learned that schools are more effective at teaching and reinforcing SEL for students when they also cultivate SEL competencies in adults. Successful SEL implementation depends on how well staff work together to facilitate SEL instruction, foster a positive school community, and model social and emotional competence. This calls on schools to focus on adults’ professional growth as educators as well as their own social and emotional learning (Jones et al., 2018).
Your school’s implementation plan will likely call on many adults—from teachers to lunchroom staff to out-of-school time partners—to take an active role in promoting social and emotional learning. You may find that staff need to engage with new programming or curricula, take on different responsibilities, or fine-tune their professional practices to serve the goals of your plan. At the same time, teaching is one of the most stressful occupations in the U.S. (Gallup, 2014). Stress affects teachers’ health and well-being, job satisfaction, job turnover, and student outcomes (Greenberg et al., 2016).
For these reasons, it’s critically important that schoolwide SEL implementation intentionally nurtures a work environment in which staff feel supported, empowered, able to collaborate effectively and build relational trust, and also able to develop their social and emotional skills.
Adult SEL is an emerging field. While robust research confirms that adults need to cultivate and practice social and emotional skills, much is yet to be established about how to support this development strategically and systemically.
As the field continues to grow, we provide information here to help SEL teams establish a community of adults who are engaged in ongoing social and emotional learning. This focus area will help your school create a supportive staff environment that cultivates adult social and emotional competence and capacity through the following sections: