Committee for Children Blog

Spark Your Start! Top Tips for Launching Second Step® SEL for Adults in a Way That Works for You

young man studies in library with friends

If you’re an educator committed to implementing social-emotional learning (SEL) professional development for adults and are wondering how to fit it in and make it happen, this article is for you. You already know about the “why” of adult SEL. Let’s talk about how to get started in a way that works for your school or district.

Second Step SEL for Adults is designed to be easy to implement. It has a Leader Track that supports leader engagement, and short microlearnings make it possible to fit individual learning time into educators’ busy days. Small-group meetings are baked in to ensure all staff have ongoing opportunities to share—an essential aspect of buy-in and effective adult learning. The program delivers the materials, structure, and strategies to make a difference in building a positive learning environment. The question is, how can you spark your start?

“The hardest thing about getting started is getting started.” —Guy Kawasaki

Try these strategies:

  1. Start when it makes sense for you and your staff. One school leader came to us with a concern about launching the program at the “wrong” time of the year. There may be an ideal time for your school to start Second Step SEL for Adults, and the beginning of the school year may or may not be it. Whether during summer break, back-to-school season, January, or any other natural fit in your school calendar, the important thing is that you start!
  2. Reserve time. Making time is easier said than done. Here’s something that may be helpful to know: Second Step SEL for Adults doesn’t require a significant time commitment compared to most professional learning programs. The following is a summary of the program’s time requirements for one module. If you can budget, define, and protect this time, you’ll be off to an excellent start.

    time commitment per module

    Tips for Reserving Time
    • To be consistent with best practices in adult learning, focus on allotting time for continual learning throughout the school year. Individual microlearnings take less than 15 minutes, and there are between four and eight for each unit. Small-group meetings take 30 minutes, and there is one per unit. Units are designed to span approximately a month each. You can pace the program to complete one unit per month leading to one module per semester as recommended, or make adjustments to the pace of learning to fit your schedule. 
    • Don’t forget that there may be opportunities to integrate the program into existing time blocks. One educator we spoke with held the program’s small-group meetings during time already reserved for existing professional learning communities, and wove the program’s small-group work into the agenda of that established time commitment.
  3. Take advantage of program supports. Perhaps this is your “one thing” to get started. If you’re the principal at your school or on the Second Step SEL for Adults Leader Team, open the Leader Team Hub, watch the two short videos in Principal Quick Start, and set aside time to take one (or more) of these steps:
    • Form a Leader Team (Principal)
    • Learn the fundamentals (Leader Team)
    • Build a shared vision (Leader Team) 
    • Plan your rollout (Leader Team) 
    • Prepare your kickoff (Leader Team) 
  4. Finally, show staff you value their learning and buy-in. It’s important to make sure your staff know you appreciate and support their participation in Second Step SEL for Adults. Here are some ways to do so:
    • If you want to ease into SEL before launching the program, consider introducing key concepts to your staff during staff meetings using some of the program’s routines. Check out the Emotional Check-In routine, for example, which is in Module 1: Building Trust > Unit 2: Trust with Colleagues > Microlearning 3: Emotional Check-In.
    • You might also provide staff with student routines from the program that they can use in their classrooms straightaway, such as Module 1: Building Trust > Unit 3: Trust with Students > Microlearning 2: Banking Time.
    • Or perhaps making the program voluntary is what works for you. Encourage staff to self-organize into cohorts and get started. We’ve found that staff enjoy group learning the most! Getting a chance to discuss the learning with their peers provides the “social” in social-emotional learning. The learning experience itself can be the time when staff develop commitment to the program’s process. Is there a way you can reserve time for adult SEL small-group work in existing professional learning communities, grade-band meetings, or any other regularly scheduled small staff meetings?
    • Remind your staff that they’ll get a certificate upon the completion of each module.
    • Stay attuned to staff needs. One school leader recently asked about starting with the Managing Stress module rather than the Building Trust module, because stress is such a key issue right now. While we recommend starting with the Building Trust module because trust is foundational for all interactions with others and building a strong community (which, in turn, buffers against stress), you know best what your staff needs.

The point is, pick one thing and get going. If you have any questions about accessing the program, don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. Once you open the program, start the process, and accomplish just one thing, take advantage of the momentum it creates for your implementation.

On our part, we’re grateful for your commitment to creating positive communities for everyone. When educators thrive, students thrive. Thank you for everything you bring to your job every day!

Learn more about Second Step® SEL for Adults