- Social and emotional learning must be valued not only as a program or curriculum in schools, but must be integrated into every aspect of a community so that supportive and constructive communications between educators and students becomes the norm, according to District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson.
- Wilson writes in The Hechinger Report that schools need to build opportunities that can foster greater understanding about SEL processes, and he cited a new program underway in DCPS with a group of principals that will help the system design and establish a model to work throughout the district for a year-long pilot program.
- Schools must be careful not to rush the establishment of SEL in the classroom and in schools, and Wilson tries to avoid setting mandates for his educators, additionally saying schools and districts should not try to undergo these transformations alone, as there are many third-party organizations and experts willing to help administrators.
More schools and districts, from a public system in North Carolina to charters in New York, are making SEL a foundational aspect of a school’s approach. However, Wilson makes an important point that the integration cannot be rushed in lieu of proper development of educators. A recent report from the University of British Columbia for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning found that the creation of teacher preparation programs in SEL were not keeping pace with the growth in interest. If school leaders are interested in making SEL a cornerstone of their own facility, they can hopefully use the multitude of research and expertise Wilson cited to ensure their faculty at least has some support in terms of developing its own approach.
One thing that can make it difficult for administrators that SEL might demand a different rubric than judging a student’s achievement and progress solely on the basis of exam assessment. In a webinar from last year about how schools can determine whether their SEL approach is successful, Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Michael Hanson said his district is sharing data with others in an attempt to clarify how best to show success in SEL. He stressed any accountability framework concocted should be utilized as “a flashlight, not a hammer.”
Other district leaders reported using school surveys or transforming how the school year begins to an emphasis on developing relationships between students and teachers. School leaders hoping to incorporate SEL should try to ensure buy-in from district leaders on the approach, as well as how success may need to be viewed differently at least initially.