Committee for Children Blog

New Schoolwide Social-Emotional Learning Implementation Resource

K-12 school and teacher social-emotional learning resources

Are you challenged by implementing social-emotional learning (SEL) schoolwide? Have questions about implementation? Or perhaps you’re new to implementing SEL?

The wait is over. The much-anticipated CASEL Guide to Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning, developed in collaboration with implementing districts and schools, is finally available. This online tool—free from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)—serves as a great companion to social-emotional learning curricula such as Second Step. In an innovative format, it provides a structure for supporting and sustaining schoolwide social-emotional learning implementation and for infusing SEL into all parts of students’ education. Here are highlights of the new schoolwide resource and tips for using it.  

Where to Start with the New Social-Emotional Learning Schoolwide Guide

CASEL’s guide provides many starting points, so schools can use the resource in a way that best fits where they are in the social-emotional learning implementation process. There are five focus areas in the comprehensive schoolwide SEL process:

  • Build SEL Awareness, Commitment, and Ownership (focus area 1A)—Learning aboutthis focus area is a must for anyone new to implementation. You’ll learn how to create a team, engage all stakeholders, and create a schoolwide vision that integrates SEL into school priorities.
  • Create a Social-Emotional Learning Plan (focus area 1B)—The focus here is on building a sense of community for social-emotional learning. Using a rubric, school teams reflect on their current implementation, set goals, plan for professional learning, develop communication plans between the team and stakeholders, and ensure resources are dedicated to SEL.  
  • Strengthen Adult SEL (focus area 2)—This area helps schools build a supportive staff environment that involves adult social-emotional competence and capacity building through reflection, learning, collaboration, and modeling.
  • Promote Social-Emotional Learning for Students (focus area 3)—This area provides resources for promoting SEL within four contexts: in the classroom and throughout the school day, and in partnership with communities and families.
  • Practice Continuous Improvement (focus area 4)—Although there are continuous improvement connections made throughout the guide, continuous improvement also gets its own focus area. These resources help schools track and use implementation and outcome data to inform their SEL implementation.

Aid for Administrators—Leadership Critical in Implementing and Sustaining SEL

“Research on successful whole-school improvement has identified school leader support as the single biggest predictor of whether change takes hold and is beneficial (Fullan, 2011).” This is an important data point from CASEL’s 2019 Guide to Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning.

The administrator’s or principal’s role in a successful SEL implementation is emphasized throughout. There are resources to help administrators support all aspects of SEL implementation, and each focus area has several tips and articles just for school leaders.

Tracking SEL Implementation Progress

The CASEL guide also provides several tools for tracking progress in schoolwide implementation:

  • A rubric helps schools check their progress on one or more focus areas of the SEL implementation process. The rubric, which can be completed online or downloaded, is simple, with two to thirteen items per focus area. There are detailed instructions for how to use the rubric, and schools that create free online accounts can track their results and progress.
  • A walkthrough protocol supports continuous improvement of schoolwide social-emotional learning implementation. The protocol helps SEL teams or observers look for evidence of schoolwide SEL across four contexts: classroom climate, classroom practices, schoolwide systems, and schoolwide practices.
  • A staff survey (not yet available) will eventually give school teams a way to gather staff perceptions to inform SEL implementation decision making.

School-Level Social-Emotional Learning Resources at Hand

A wide range of tools are available and easy to find within the guide. Everything for all five focus areas, from documents to spreadsheets and more, is cataloged in the index of tools under the Resources tab.

Check out the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL to find out how it can help you organize and improve your school’s social-emotional learning efforts and make decisions about SEL implementation.

If you are a district leader or part of a district SEL implementation team, visit the CASEL Districtwide Resource Center to find examples from other successful districts concerning how to successfully implement SEL throughout your district.

Learn more about what’s new in social-emotional learning and PreK-12 education.