Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL)?

SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively. Although SEL is not a program, many available programs provide instruction in and opportunities to practice, apply, and be recognized for using SEL skills. Competence in the use of SEL skills is promoted in the context of safe and supportive schools, family, and community learning environments in which children feel valued and respected and connected to and engaged in learning. SEL is fundamental not only to children's social and emotional development; but also to their health, ethical development, citizenship, motivation to achieve, and academic learning (Elias et al., 1997, and CASEL, Safe and Sound, 2005).

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY ABOUT SEL?

A meta-analysis of more than 700 positive youth development, social emotional learning, character education, and prevention interventions was conducted in 2007 (CASEL, 2007). The sample included school, family and community interventions that promote personal and social skills in youth ages 5-18.

This study produced strong empirical support for the value of social emotional development programs. The findings for school-based SEL interventions indicated that gains include: 

  • 7.5% decrease in the rate of aggressive behaviors.
  • 8% decrease in the rate of school disciplinary actions
  • 14% increase in achievement test scores

Youth demonstrated improvements in social and emotional skills, school bonding, prosocial norms, self-perceptions, positive social behavior, and academic achievement. In addition, reductions in conduct problems, substance abuse, and internalizing symptoms were found.

In 2011, research (Durlak, et.al) The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions was published summarizing  the findings from a meta-analysis of 213 school-based, universal social and emotional learning (SEL) programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students. Compared to controls, SEL participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance that reflected an 11-percentile-point gain in achievement. School teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs. The use of 4 recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes. The findings add to the growing empirical evidence regarding the positive impact of SEL programs. Policy makers, educators, and the public can contribute to healthy development of children by supporting the incorporation of evidence-based SEL programming into standard educational practice.

If you are interested in the detailed report of these and other findings related to SEL, please visit the CASEL website or check out the book Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say?  Available from our SEL Coordinators.

WHY IS SEL IMPORTANT?

Our emotions and relationships affect how and what we learn and how we use what we learn in work, family, and community contexts. On the one hand, emotions can enable us to generate an active interest in learning and sustain our engagement in it. On the other hand, unmanaged stress and poor regulation of impulses interfere with attention and memory and contribute to behaviors disruptive to learning. Moreover, learning is an intrinsically social and interactive process; it takes place in collaboration with one's teachers, in the company of one's peers, and with the support of one's family. Hence, the abilities to recognize and manage emotions and establish and maintain positive relationships impact both preparation for learning and the ability to benefit from learning opportunities. Because safe, nurturing, well-managed learning environments are essential to the mastery of SEL skills, they too are essential to children's school and life success. SEL skills and the supportive learning environments in which they are taught contribute to the resiliency of all children-those without identified risks and those at-risk for or already exhibiting emotional or behavioral problems and in need of additional supports.

HOW CAN I USE SEL IN MY CLASSROOM?

There are many ways to incorporate SEL into every classroom. Just keep in mind that effective SEL programming includes: 

  • Instruction in and opportunities to practice and apply an integrated set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills (examples include stand alone curriculum such as PATHS, Second Step, MindUP™, School Connect)
  • Learning environments characterized by trust and respectful relationships (examples include responsive classroom, collaborative problem solving, cultural responsiveness, and Love and Logic, Nurtured Heart)
  • Implementation that is coordinated and reinforces classroom, school-wide, out-of-school, and at-home learning activities (examples include continued staff development, SEL coordination, and school-home-community partnerships)
  • Systematic and sequential programming from preschool through high school
  • Developmentally and culturally appropriate behavioral supports
  • On-going monitoring and evaluation of implementation for continuous improvement (examples include the use of pre/post testing)

WHO CAN HELP ME SUPPORT SEL IN MY CLASSROOM?

The District SEL Coordinators are available to support staff in the following ways: 

  • Resource for Social Emotional Learning Curriculum for ages 5-21 and diverse student populations
  • Access to social-emotional curriculum and projects in the district
  • Assistance in accessing training in SEL practices and curricula
  • Information regarding strategies to support students in acquiring social emotional skills
  • Classroom observation and mentoring in the social emotional domain
  • Training on SEL topics
  • Support in developing a building crisis response team to include restoration of the school community
  • Help accessing Intermediate District 287 SEL website resources
  • Support with ideas for incorporating movement and learning
  • Work-based and experiential social emotional interventions
  • Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
  • Teaching or co-teaching to build SEL competencies

HOW CAN I GET HELP FROM THE SEL COORDINATOR?

Contact by phone or email:
Kathy Utter, SEL Coordinator
Ph: 763.550.3112
klutter@district287.org
Linda Oberg, SEL Coordinator
Ph: 612.355.5829
lmoberg@district287.org

WHERE CAN I FIND RESOURCES TO USE IN MY CLASSROOM?

There are several ways to find resources. You can use the SEL website, the SEL Coordinators or CASEL website. The SEL website includes a resource catalog which details curricula and resources available in our district. Please take a look and contact a SEL Coordinator to obtain resources, training or to share an idea. 

WHAT ARE SOME RESOURCES FOR INTEGRATING SEL COMPONENTS INTO ACADEMIC CONTENT AREA?

In addition to providing instruction in social and emotional skills, teachers' involvement in promoting SEL goes beyond the classroom and includes the following:
  • Participating on a school team or committee that selects an SEL program and oversees the implementation and evaluation of SEL activities
  • Communicating regularly with students' families about SEL classroom activities to encourage reinforcement of SEL lessons at home
  • Modeling and providing opportunities for students to practice and apply SEL skills in the classroom
  • Using participatory instructional methods that draw on students' experience and engage them in learning
  • Using SEL skills in teaching academic subjects to enhance students' understanding. For example, in language arts or social studies lessons, students can be encouraged to discuss how characters or historical figures did or did not express understanding of others' feelings or used good problem-solving skills
Instructional methods that are active, participatory, and engaging are SEL based. Here are a few examples:
  • Young children can to be taught through modeling and coaching to recognize how they feel or how someone else might be feeling.
  • Prompting the use of a conflict-resolution skill and using dialoguing to guide students through the steps can be an effective approach to helping them apply a skill in a new situation.
  • In class meetings, students can practice group decision-making and setting classroom rules.
  • Students can learn cooperation and teamwork through participation in team sports and games.
  • Students deepen their understanding of a current or historical event by applying it to a set of questions based on a problem-solving model.
  • Cross-age mentoring, in which a younger student is paired with an older one, can be effective in building self-confidence, a sense of belonging, and enhancing academic skills.
  • Having one member of a pair describe a situation to his partner and having the partner repeat what he or she heard is an effective tool in teaching reflective listening.

ARE THERE STANDARDS FOR SEL?

Standards and policies at the State or District level provide extremely important supports to schools' SEL efforts. District 287 has taken an active role in adopting developmentally appropriate SEL Standards. Standards help to ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop the core skills of a socially and emotionally capable person. SEL standards provide a clear framework with uniform goals for every child, but also allow schools the flexibility of utilizing a variety of different programs, practices, and strategies to attain these goals. SEL Standards & Benchmarks

ARE CHARACTER EDUCATION, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND SEL THE SAME THING?

The short answer is yes. Each of these involves the building of skills in the areas of relationships, self-awareness, self-management and decision making. Individually, they each focus on specific characteristics that are important to any individual's development.

WHAT IS MINDUP AND IS IT FOR STUDENTS AND STAFF?

The District uses the MindUP Program, a curriculum based on social emotional learning, positive psychology, mindfulness training and neuroscience. Research on adults indicates that Mindfulness based stress reduction program positively impacts quality of life as well stress, anxiety and coping disability. Recent research (Schonert-Reichl, 2012) indicates MindUP seems to accomplish something similar. In a study presented at the Developmental Contemplative Science meeting in Toronto, Schonert-Reichl and doctoral student Molly Stewart Lawlor and their colleagues measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 99 fourth and fifth graders in four local schools in March and again in June, a tumultuous month for students as they wrap up their classes for the year. Initially they saw a healthy hormonal pattern in all the children: cortisol peaked one hour after waking and then declined steeply during the day. For the kids who participated in MindUP, the same rise and fall was recorded in June. In contrast, the cortisol levels of kids in the comparison classrooms were flat throughout the day, a pattern indicative of chronic stress. “Our hypothesis is that MindUP buffered kids from that end-of-year stress,” Lawlor says.
Mindfulness benefits both staff and students.  The Hawn Foundation

I HAVE BEEN USING GREAT SEL RESOURCES FOR SEVERAL YEARS, HOW CAN I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT I AM DOING?

There is a great repository of resources and talent located throughout the District. Through SEL coordination and the SEL website, we want colleagues to have a means of sharing best practices with each other. Please send your great ideas, thoughts and resources to the SEL Coordinators. We would love to include them in our newsletter, in our resources list, or as a feature on the web page.

HOW CAN I EVALUATE MY INTEGRATION OF SEL PROGRAMMING?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has evaluation tools that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of SEL practices. Please contact an SEL coordinator to obtain these tools.
Intermediate District 287
1820 XENIUM LANE NORTH Plymouth, MN 55441
PH: 763-559-3535
info@district287.org

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