Committee for Children Blog

Social-Emotional Learning: It Starts with Adults

social-emotional learning adults

Second Step SEL for Adults Program Now in Development

Children’s relationships and interactions—with teachers, parents, and community members—are as important to their holistic development as classroom lessons. If asked, many of us could name our favorite teacher growing up, or at least recall feelings of being valued, safe in the classroom, and eager to learn. As adults we can also see the bigger picture—that those teachers worked tirelessly to foster positive environments for their students while living up to expectations unlike those of any other profession.

By tacking “motivator,” “protector,” and “role model” to an already significant job description, we ask educators to do far more than support students’ academic development. Teachers are reporting record stress levels, and rates of leaving the profession entirely are the highest on record, prompting thought leaders in the social-emotional learning (SEL) field to turn their attention to the value of SEL for adults—school leadership and staff in particular. The CASEL Guide to Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning  recently identified strengthening adult SEL as an implementation focus, citing the importance for schools to “foster a supportive staff environment that cultivates the social and emotional competence and capacity of the adults in the building.”

Combining Committee for Children’s expertise in SEL with that of educational development and leadership experts, including Dr. Douglas Fisher and Dr. Nancy Frey (authors of All Learning Is Social and Emotional), we’re creating an SEL program for adults to help schools and districts empower K–12 school leadership and staff to deepen their own social-emotional competence, develop trusting relationships with their peers and students, and encourage a positive school climate, all of which will improve outcomes for students. The program’s web-based delivery method is flexible to allow easy access for all adults working with students in a school community, so they can in turn support students’ social-emotional development throughout the school year.

“We’ve chosen to innovate and invest in this space because after 40 years of work in the field of social-emotional learning, we know that it’s not just about teaching kids these skills,” says Colleen Oliver, Committee for Children’s CEO. “The aim of our new adult SEL program is to inspire educators, transform learning, and strengthen communities.”

Outside of the family, educators play the most meaningful role in a child’s social-emotional development, and that level of support can’t (and shouldn’t) be shouldered by any one individual. Our hope is for schools to become resilient, joyous places of learning, capable of meeting complex challenges as a community. It starts with adults making their own social-emotional learning a priority.

Our adult SEL program is now being tested across the country. To receive updates as materials become available or to express an interest in user testing, please join our mailing list.