This Month's SEL Conversation | October 2021
Top of Mind: The Integration of SEL & Civic Engagement
“What's the purpose of having social and emotional competencies, if not to apply them to the real issues and contexts that our young folks and all of us are facing right now?" Dr. Daren Graves of Simmons University raised during last week’s SEL Exchange Virtual Summit.  

The annual convening hosted by CASEL brought together nearly 2,300 participants for four hours of rich dialogue on SEL and civic engagement. So, what did we learn?
  1. Social and emotional skills help us analyze issues, develop agency, and take action. Civic engagement begins with analyzing what is happening around us. From that analysis, we build agency by figuring out how to have an impact. Agency turns to action when we work together toward solutions. By finding synergies between the fields of SEL and civic engagement, researchers and practitioners can strengthen these connections.
  2. Look beyond school walls for ways that students can practice SEL while contributing to their communities. Families and community organizations play a central role in helping young people find purpose and develop leadership skills. Speakers shared how opportunities like Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) create authentic spaces for young people to learn about and act on community issues. 
  3. Young people are not just planning to make the world a better place someday; they are already creating positive change. Young people shared how they are making a difference and how adults have made space for them. Adults can create learning experiences that help students examine the world around them, identify their roles, and take steps toward achieving their goals. 

Did you miss the Summit? Explore the integration of SEL and civic engagement on demand.
Let's Talk More About...
Innovation and SEL: The Next Generation of Scholars

Lifelong learners are the backbone of the SEL field. They are the innovators, the question-askers, the researchers, and the teachers. They are the ones always striving to improve and do what is best for students. In the spirit of lifelong learning, the CASEL Weissberg Scholars program is bringing together the next generation of SEL innovators. Ten inaugural scholars from around the country will spend two years together exploring diverse research interests to collectively strengthen the vision of SEL. The program for early career scholars honors the legacy of Dr. Roger P. Weissberg who played a unique role in the evolution of the SEL field as a collaborator, mentor, and founding thought leader. Read more about this exciting community of lifelong learners. 
Related action: Pure Edge, Inc., is sponsoring the first cohort of the CASEL Weissberg Scholars program and has generously offered to match your contributions. For every $1 donated, Pure Edge, Inc., will donate $2 in support of the program through November 30, 2021.
Demand for SEL: Support Continues to Surge

In a year overwhelmed with priorities, schools and districts consistently put student well-being and SEL at the very top of their lists. This represents a significant shift in priorities since the pandemic, according to a new report showing rapidly increasing adoption of SEL. Parent and educator surveys also confirm widespread support for SEL. More than 9 in 10 educators believe SEL is critical in helping students transition back to in-person learning. Similarly, 81 percent of parents agree SEL has become even more important since the start of the pandemic. As demand continues to rise, the question is no longer whether SEL is important. It is how we will work together to make SEL an essential part of education so that all students thrive. 

Related action: Support SEL at home by downloading resources from the Our Children Are Leaders campaign.
SEL During Pandemic Times: Moving from Priority to Implementation 

The pandemic ushered in renewed commitment for SEL -- but how did educators turn that priority into actual practice? A new study suggests that clear guidance from schools and districts helped educators implement SEL and reduce burnout during the pandemic. But when SEL mandates were not accompanied by practical guidance or support of educators’ own social and emotional needs, implementation suffered. Districts and schools can support SEL implementation in several ways, such as adopting an evidence-based SEL program, offering high-quality professional learning, and strengthening adult SEL

Related action: Establish an SEL team that can guide implementation and continuous improvement
Worth A Read
  • CASEL CEO Karen Niemi connects SEL and civic solutions 

  • A podcast featuring educators from Boston Public Schools

  • A video showcasing ways to bring optimistic closure, one of the SEL 3 Signature Practices, into the classroom

  • A brief showcasing lessons learned and unique strategies for supporting students

  • CASEL shares guidance for picking an evidence-based SEL program

  • CASEL’s Justina Schlund highlights the key benefits of SEL
What's Next
October 29: SEL Showcase for October | SEL4US 
  • Share your ideas about the importance of SEL and digital citizenship on social media using #SELshowcase and tagging @SEL4USA @CommonSense @caselorg

  • A virtual four-part workshop series to support staff and teams from districts and schools

November 11-12: Cultivating the Spiritual Core Learning Summit | Fetzer Institute and the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education
  • Free, two-day online learning summit will strengthen a dedicated community that seeks to nurture the inner life of our students and cultivate well-being in our schools

  • Free CASEL webinar on what makes SEL implementation last long-term, especially as people and contexts change
What's your take?
Which of these actions on SEL and civic engagement do you want to prioritize?
Please select one:
Identify opportunities for promoting SEL through civic action
Connect with community and family partners in your SEL effort
Call for more research to connect SEL to civic learning
Advocate for policy that funds SEL and civic education
In last month's poll we asked, "How are you planning to connect with families to promote SEL this year?" The most popular answer was "Including families on SEL teams."
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Thank you to CASEL's generous sponsors

The Allstate Foundation and CASEL are collaborating to focus the country’s attention on the power of social and emotional learning to equip the next generation with the skills they need to succeed. The Allstate Foundation champions SEL and service-learning programs to ensure youth reach their full potential and have the power to build the just, equitable and healthy world we all deserve.