Committee for Children Blog

Ten Things District Leaders Can Do This Year to Plan for Student Success

This post is the third of three in my strategic plan series on maximizing strategic plans for student success. The first two blogs in the sequence covered how social-emotional learning (SEL) is often incorporated into strategic plans and why articulating a shared strategic vision for students’ social, emotional, and academic success is needed. This piece focuses on “strategic doing” to build an infrastructure for SEL by translating strategic goals into action. 

These are ten immediate actions you can take to begin to build districtwide support for students to develop and maintain strong positive social behaviors, relationships, and academic performance for success in school and life…

1. Attend a webinar about SEL:

TED Talk on the Importance of SEL, by Trish Shaffer

Center on Great Teachers and Leaders Webinar about Integrating Social-Emotional Learning into State and District Policies

2. Order trial programs to see the strengths and benefits of the social skills and/or bullying prevention curriculum first hand.

3. Create a SEL task force in your district to develop a plan for building district-wide understanding and buy-in about the value of SEL for both staff and students.

4. Appoint a principal to explore SEL curricula to find one that best meets your needs and strategic initiatives.

5. Develop and engage a leadership team (existing or new) to explore how SEL and teaching of the social skills curriculum aligns with your existing initiatives, mission, vision, and strategic plan priorities.

6. Talk to your school board/board of education about what SEL is and why it’s important. Two good resources for this are CASEL and the white paper “Safe, Supported, and Ready to Learn.”

7. Create a plan to pilot an SEL curriculum in the fall with one or two schools, a specific grade level, or a select group of teachers who can become champions for the work.

8. Send a district leader to the Second Step Leadership Institute to learn about effective, systemic implementation strategies for districtwide implementation.

9. Embed SEL within your 2016–2017 professional learning plan to ensure all staff members have initial and ongoing professional development and support for SEL, which includes information about the necessary steps and components for successfully implementing your district-wide social skills curriculum.

10. Reach out to learn more about what other districts are successfully doing to promote SEL for all students, such as those part of the CASEL Collaborating Districts Initiative.

District and school leaders both play an important role in promoting the academic and behavioral learning of all students. Successful schools and districts depend on strong leadership that lays the groundwork for developing strategic improvement plans and fully supports conditions for systematically implementing and sustaining the actions to successfully achieve the goals in those plans. Your guidance and support are essential to establishing and maintaining positive, safe learning environments that promote social and academic learning.

Thank you for ensuring that there is “strategic doing” in SEL implementation!