SEL can be a lever for advancing educational equity.
SEL can be a powerful lever for creating caring, just, inclusive, and healthy communities that support all individuals in reaching their fullest potential.
Systemic implementation of SEL both fosters and depends upon an equitable learning environment, where all students and adults feel respected, valued, and affirmed in their individual interests, talents, social identities, cultural values and backgrounds.
While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help schools promote understanding, examine biases, reflect on and address the impact of racism, build cross-cultural relationships, and cultivate adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create a more inclusive school community. In doing so, schools can promote high-quality educational opportunities and outcomes for all students, irrespective of race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, and other differences.
This requires that SEL is implemented with an explicit goal of promoting educational equity.
When SEL is leveraged to promote equity:
What it looks like: Schools use SEL as a framework to examine the importance of the range of adult and student identities and assets, reflect on and appreciate diversity, and foster an inclusive environment. Schools adopt evidence-based programs that are culturally-affirming and relevant to their communities and needs.
What it looks like: Systemic implementation fosters schoolwide conditions that promote social and emotional growth for all students, including opportunities to build trusting relationships, welcoming learning environments, consistent routines, engaging teaching strategies, culturally-relevant practices and authentic family and community partnerships.
What it looks like: All students have developmentally-appropriate opportunities to engage in discussions with each other, raise problems and identify solutions in their schools and communities, productively challenge the inequities that they see, have a voice in how the classroom and school operate, and take on authentic leadership roles.
What it looks like: Adults reflect on their own identities, assets and biases, and engage in culturally-relevant practices and conversations around equity. School teams examine disaggregated data, analyze root causes of disparities, and engage various stakeholders to co-develop policies and practices that support equity.
What it looks like: Students, families and community partners are active partners in the planning and implementation of schoolwide SEL and are represented on the SEL team. All students, families, and community partners have frequent opportunities to share their perspectives and feedback.
In the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL, equity is not a separate focus area, but woven throughout the approach to implementation. As you engage in schoolwide SEL, we encourage you to continuously center this work around equity and leverage SEL to create school communities where all students can use their talents and interests to realize their fullest potential.