Social Emotional Learning
"Employees and students acquire and effectively apply personal and social attitudes, behaviors, and skills necessary to lead happy and fulfilling lives." - District SEL Vision Statement
- Educator & Family Resources
- What is SEL?
- Restorative Practices
- Trauma Sensitive Practices
- SEL Assessment
- Professional Learning
Parent and Family Resources
Parents, families, guardians play a pivotal role in the social-emotional development of children and youth. They can supplement instruction at home and reinforce SEL competencies that students learn at school, increasing the likelihood that students will use strategies in various life settings.
Harmony at Home
Harmony at Home is an online toolkit for educators, families, and caregivers to teach vital social emotional learning (SEL) skills using the strategies Sanford Programs has developed for classroom teachers.
Play at Home is a playbook for parents/guardians to engage students in pro-social play. It contains instructions, recommended ages, and variations for several activities and games that can be done at home.
To help families build resilience, WhyTry has developed a guide for parents to build resilience in themselves as well as with their children.
In addition to ensuring physical safety while helping students learn, schools must be intentional in ensuring the social-emotional well-being of students. Students who don't feel physically and emotionally safe will not be in a place to learn.
The DSD SEL Teacher Roadmap for Reopening Schools provides tips and resources to teachers as schools reopen during the pandemic. Additionally, educators should focus on self-care so that they are better able to support students.
Pure Edge is a free curriculum for educators to engage in self-care for themselves or for teaching students strategies for mindfulness and self-care through brain breaks, mindful movement, and breathing exercises.
DSD employees can access any of a number of books that focus on or address social emotional learning by going to the SORA app and searching under Collections for "Social Emotional Books."
We are facing unprecedented set of circumstances with school closures, COVID-19, economic crisis and racial inequities. Within the context of these challenges, schools are reopening to be a place of safety and learning for students. Administrators play a key role in ensuring schools implement equity-focused strategies to foster the social-emotional health of staff and students.
The DSD SEL Administrator Roadmap for Reopening Schools provides tips and resources for administrators as schools reopen during the pandemic, including ideas for supporting teachers and creating a culture of care.
What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?
Social emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Systemic SEL is promoted across multiple contexts every day. SEL is more than just a program or lesson. It is about how teaching and learning happens, as well as what you teach and where you learn.
Academic learning and cognitive growth are inextricably linked with social and emotional development and environments. For example, students learn best when they are focused, find information relevant and engaging, and are actively involved in learning. This requires them to have a ready and focused brain, use emotional regulation skills, and be in an environment where they feel physically and emotionally safe, connected, included, and supported.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is recognized as a trusted source for knowledge about evidenced-based SEL. CASEL leads multiple initiatives and produces high-quality resources for states, districts, schools, parents, and students. Social and emotional learning enhances students’ capacity to integrate skills, attitudes, and behaviors to deal effectively and ethically with daily tasks and challenges. Like many similar frameworks, CASEL’s integrated framework promotes intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive competence. There are five core competencies that can be taught in many ways across many settings. Davis School Districts’ SEL initiative and implementation plan is aligned with the CASEL framework.
SEL and Davis District Strategic Plan
The Davis School District SEL implementation plan is aligned with the district strategic goals by defining and supporting culture. SEL provides resources to help cultivate adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create more inclusive school communities. Davis School District and individual school plans are designed using the CASEL framework in four focus areas: 1) build capacity and foundational support; 2) strengthen adult social and emotional learning; 3) promote student social emotional learning; 4) model continuous improvement.
District department goals and school improvement plans reflect social and emotional learning through the culture and climate strand in the Davis School District strategic plan. Some plans specifically address SEL in safety and security, student growth and achievement, empowered employees, and parent and community connections. Davis School District has provided tools and guidelines for schools to implement SEL based on their identified needs and reflected in their school-wide goals.
Restorative Practices are a set of practices that develop relationships and community and repair those relationships when harm is done. Restorative practices are aimed at shifting focus away from just punishing and towards repairing harm done to people. Restorative practices support social and emotional development by promoting inclusiveness, relationship-building, and problem-solving. Restorative methods such as circles and restorative conferences bring victims, offenders, and their supporters together to address wrongdoing and repair harm caused to relationships. Listed below are a few strategies to help build strong relationships and empathy.
FOSTER A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Students cannot learn unless they feel safe. Build a supportive environment where students feel safe, comfortable, take risks, and learn.
Morning Meetings Circles
One great way to help students learn is to build in SEL within the day. A great way to start each day is by taking a couple minutes and building in a regular meeting where everyone can "check-in" with each other. This helps to build a strong classroom culture of respect and empathy.
Current event or talking guide
To help guide the facilitation of a group circle, it can be helpful to have either an object or a specific topic to discuss (like a current event or question geared towards engaging students into sharing their thoughts, beliefs, or experiences).
Integrating Circles into daily lessons / activities
Building in circle time throughout the day as part of regular lessons can be a great way to help build SEL competencies within students. An easy way to do this would be to have the students spend a couple minutes before and after exams or assignments where they can discuss in pairs or small groups some things that may be challenging before the task and then review what strategies they used after the task is completed.
Implementing proactive strategies will promote a greater culture of caring and empathy and students more often behaving in pro-social ways. However, even with good tier 1 practices, some social challenges and problem behavior will occur. When unexpected problems arise, it's good to have a plan in place ahead of time that the teacher and students are familiar with. One such plan is a restorative circles. These can be as formal or informal as needed. For smaller, minor issues (like in class, playground, or in the hall) a small, quick, and informal "circle" with the 2 parties and an adult can sometimes be adequate.
RESTORATIVE CIRCLES AND BRIEF CONFERENCES
These can be as formal or informal as needed. For smaller, minor issues (e.g., in class, playground, or in the hall) a brief conference with the 2 parties and an adult can sometimes be adequate. Other times the whole class may be involved in a restorative circle to address ongoing behavioral issues in the classroom. Some of the talking points could be as follows:
Questions for the offender(s)
1. Review what happened and
who has been impacted.
2. Review what has happened
3. What can/should you do to
improve the situation?
1. What were you thinking as the
"event" occurred and how has it
2. What could the other person
do to make things right?
Provide a space with activities to “change the channel” on negative or inaccurate thinking. Activities such as brain breaks, listening to calming music, or mindful breathing help students to calm the brain. Cognitive distractions are incompatible with negative thinking.
LIMIT EXCLUSIONARY PRACTICES
Ignoring inappropriate behavior, sending students to the office, or sending students to sit alone at a back table or in the hallway, can unintentionally trigger students who have experienced abandonment or neglect.
Resources and References
Overview of Trauma Sensitive Schools
Trauma has a direct impact on a child's ability to succeed in school. Schools must recognize and understand the impact of trauma in order to create an environment that enables children who have experienced trauma to succeed. Driven by a need to support all students, many educators have adopted a trauma-sensitive lens. This includes learning about the impact and signs of trauma, working to develop trusting relationships with students, and creating safe classroom environments to support students exposed to trauma.
Trauma-sensitive schools create an environment where students are free from physical and social-emotional harm. A trauma-sensitive school is a safe and respectful environment that enables students to build trusting relationships with adults and peers, self-regulate their emotions and behaviors, and succeed academically, while supporting their physical health and emotional and mental well-being. They do this by recognizing the effects of trauma, responding to trauma through school- and classroom-wide practices, and collaborating with families and community partners to get students higher-level support where needed. Schools who would like to incorporate trauma-sensitive practices may find the following Action Steps For School Leaders useful. Additional resources for schools and individual educators, including training materials and instructional strategies, can be found below and on the Training Resources tab of this page.
Trauma-Sensitive Key Practices
Recognizing Trauma Students who have experienced trauma may struggle to follow behavioral norms, withdraw, or have difficulty with verbal or organizational skills.
Responding to Trauma (Tier 1 school-wide practices)
Conduct screening (e.g., Student Risk Screening Scale) to identify students at risk for trauma, behavior, and mental health concerns.
Provide a welcoming school climate
Include predictable structure and routines
Facilitate authentic, trusting relationships with peers and adults
Avoid experiences that re-traumatize students, including bullying and punitive discipline
Provide a positive climate for staff
Responding to Trauma (Tier 2 and 3)
Group interventions or trauma-specific individualized treatment
Wrap-around services and community mental health partnerships
Trauma Sensitive Training Resources
The DSD SEL School Self-Assessment and Walk-Through tool was developed based on other researched- and practice-based tools. It is intended for a school team (e.g., SEL, MTSS, LCMT) to conduct in order to evaluate their systems-level and classroom-level SEL practices. Schools interested in completing a self-assessment of their school-wide practices are encouraged to complete the walk-through tool (surveys of staff and students) first. This information is then used, along with other sources of evidence, to complete the DSD SEL School Self-Assessment and submitted below:
The Educator Resilience and Trauma-Informed Self-Care tool is a self-care self-assessment and planning tool with key strategies for fostering resilience and a self-care planning tool to assist educators in identifying areas of strength and growth related to self-care and developing self-care plans. Teachers and administrators may wish to complete this to identify areas and ways to improve upon their own self-care.
Implementation of SEL
Implementation of SEL practices, or any systems-level initiative, is a multi-year effort that goes requires effective training, follow-up support, and evaluation. The National Implementation Research Network's Active Implementation Hub outlines the drivers of implementation and includes resources and tools to support school systems implementing evidence-based practices. The stages of implementation, one of those key drivers, serve as a guide for school teams to identify steps they need to take to successfully implement a practice.
Within this framework, the Davis School District has identified the following possible stages, or "focus areas" for schools implementing SEL practices. For each focus area, you'll find a button linking to suggested resources including videos, Nearpod Learning Labs, and/or Canvas courses.
1. Build capacity and foundational support
Build capacity with school staff, community partners, parents, and students. Build awareness, commitment, and ownership. Designate a school SEL team with an SEL administrative leader (school culture liaison) and design a school 3-year SEL plan.
2. Strengthen adult SEL in your school
Train and include all certified and classified staff in self-care strategies. Model SEL in adult learning situations including faculty meetings and trainings using the 3 signature practices of: 1) Welcoming Inclusion Activities; 2) Engaging Pedagogy; 3) Optimistic Closure.
By engaging in their own social and emotional learning, teachers enhance their own efficacy and job satisfaction while creating models for students’ SEL (Elias et al., in press; Jones & Weissbourd, 2013). Studies have found that adults who can recognize, understand, label, express, and regulate their own emotions. The way that staff interact and work together strongly influences school climate, and a collaborative staff community is crucial to schoolwide SEL.
3. Promote SEL for students
Implement DSD Teacher Toolkit of instructional strategies. Direct instruction for student Social and Emotional Learning is delivered by teachers and supported by counselors. School-wide SEL is embedded in policies and practices. Structure of school includes trauma-sensitive and restorative practices. Parents are encouraged to practice SEL strategies to support school SEL activities.
4. Practice continuous improvement.
Implement DSD SEL Self-Assessment and Walkthrough tool to gather SEL baseline data and SEL school improvement data. Use additional resources to inform and refine school SEL plan based on school-wide goals. DSD SEL Self-Assessment and Walkthrough tool is available in Microsoft Forms for each individual school.
Building Social Skills with Books (BYU SEL Lessons)
Strengthen Adult SEL (CASEL)
PureEdge Registration (with instructions for creating an account)
If you'd like to learn more, please contact SEL Director Kathleen Chronister