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Focus Area 3

School

Align school climate, programs, and practices to promote SEL for students.

SEL implementation takes root when every part of the school day promotes students’ social and emotional learning. As students move between classrooms, lunch periods, hallways, and various in- and out-of-school time programs, their experiences shape how they perceive themselves, relate to others, address conflicts, and make decisions.

Promoting SEL for students requires more than SEL instruction in the classroom. It begins with fostering a warm, nurturing, and motivating school climate where every interaction with peers and adults supports students socially and emotionally. It involves creating consistent opportunities throughout the school day to practice skills that reinforce SEL instruction and make SEL relevant to students’ daily lives. It also means seamlessly integrating SEL into all of your schools programs and practices.

Schools often have multiple initiatives and programs aimed at promoting student achievement and well-being, but they are often fragmented or seen as competing priorities. Schoolwide SEL provides a framework to help create common language and goals between programs, such as:

  • Service learning
  • Family programs
  • Character development
  • PBIS and other behavior support programs
  • Restorative Practices
  • Student support services
  • School safety programs
  • Substance-use prevention
  • Anti-bullying efforts
  • Mentoring or tutoring programs
  • Out-of-school time programs
  • Mindfulness
  • Community partnerships
  • Mental health supports

If you have already begun strategies for promoting students’ SEL schoolwide, use the rubric or the questions below to identify areas for continuous improvement: 

Do staff have ongoing professional learning opportunities to learn how to promote SEL for students, including integrating SEL into instruction, implementing an evidence-based SEL program, and using culturally responsive SEL strategies?

Are collaboratively developed schoolwide norms and routines universally agreed upon and used consistently throughout the school to support SEL?

Has the school established a common language for SEL and aligned priorities and goals throughout all SEL-related initiatives?

Is SEL fully integrated into both academic and behavioral support services that meet the needs of all students?

Are school discipline policies aligned with SEL, and are restorative, instructive, and developmentally appropriate disciplinary practices used consistently and equitably as evidenced by data?

Do staff honor and elevate a broad range of student perspectives and experiences by engaging students as leaders, problem solvers and decision-makers; and do students take on leadership roles within the school community and participate in meaningful service learning opportunities.

Are evidence-based SEL programs and practices  used with fidelity across the school and in all grade levels?

Depending on your answers, you may want to prioritize certain areas for promoting SEL schoolwide. This section provides several core strategies to help your team to coordinate multiple school efforts and infuse SEL into every part of the school day:

  • Foster a supportive school climate including norms, routines, and procedures that promote SEL.
  • Adopt an evidence-based SEL program that ensures consistent and high-quality SEL opportunities for all students.
  • Elevate student voice to actively engage students in schoolwide SEL.
  • Integrate SEL into a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to ensure SEL is embedded throughout student supports.
  • Ensure discipline policies promote SEL and equitable outcomes to align disciplinary practices with SEL goals.
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