This Month's SEL Conversation | May 2021
Top of Mind: Summer Professional Learning
As educators know, summer is synonymous with professional learning. With the challenges of the pandemic, there is serious concern about adding to educator stress, along with greater urgency around supporting adult learning. Done right, professional learning experiences can offer educators the chance to re-invigorate their passion for working with students, cultivate trusting relationships with their coworkers, and help educators feel ready for the new school year.  

By aligning professional learning with SEL principles, districts and schools can create space and support for educators. The result? An opportunity to reflect on and process the past year, support healing and self-care, and build capacity to create equitable learning environments and promote students’ social, emotional, and academic learning. SEL professional learning can also help create a foundation that bridges emerging priorities: accelerating academic learning, engaging students who’ve had long absences, promoting mental health, and more. 

As importantly, summer professional learning, like our SEL implementation workshops, is a great time for teams to coordinate schoolwide goals and plans. These experiences help educators come back to school in the fall re-energized, re-committed, and ready to support students, each other, and themselves.

Related action: Register by June 21, 2021 for our SEL implementation workshops and plan ahead for a strong school year
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SEL and Federal Funds: Investing American Rescue Plan Dollars

The $123 billion infusion to K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 offers a critical opportunity to invest in systemic approaches to SEL - through the pandemic and beyond. State and local policymakers can help optimize resources by ensuring SEL investments are evidence-based, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of all students, including those in historically marginalized communities. So, where should funding be focused? This fact sheet provides a summary of the primary K-12 funding streams and implementation provisions. We believe investment in these three areas could most effectively bolster systemic implementation of SEL: 1) promotion of SEL for students, 2) support for adult SEL competencies and capacity-building, and 3) alignment of SEL efforts across schools, families, and communities.

Related action: Read our new policy brief for more detailed recommendations in these areas to engage your community in a planning process for investing ARP funds
SEL and Continuous Improvement: Rethinking “Assessments” This Year 

As the 2020-2021 school year draws to a close, many schools and districts will be reflecting on the data they’ve collected to guide continuous improvement. This moment is an opportunity to think beyond traditional “assessments'' and data processes to more fully measure student well-being and growth. Data on students’ sense of belonging and engagement, family experiences, school and classroom climate, and students’ social and emotional competence can create fuller pictures of students’ well-being and growth. This information can help to identify students’ strengths and learning goals and guide the SEL team in continuing or adjusting SEL strategies. It’s also important to include students, educators, families, and communities in reflecting on and making decisions based on the data. Not sure where to start? A first step to achieve your vision is to set clear, measurable goals.

Related action: Access the SEL Assessment Guide for guidance on how to select an assessment and use student SEL data
Defining SEL: What Does 'Social and Emotional Learning' Mean?

As attention and demand for SEL grows in response to the pandemic, it’s important to align your communities around a clear definition for SEL- one that is anchored in a strengths-based approach. Last fall, we updated our definition to pay close attention to how SEL affirms the identities, strengths, and experiences of all children, including those who have been marginalized in our education system. These updates highlighted the need to integrate SEL across context and curricula and emphasized the connection between SEL and equity. Want to determine what the updated definition means for your implementation efforts? Our reflection protocol can help you facilitate a discussion in small or large groups. We've also crafted guidance around how to think about SEL, with specific examples and clear criteria for measuring strong coverage on the topic. As interest and implementation reach all-time highs, CASEL remains committed to sharing our vision of high-quality, evidence-based SEL with all.
Worth A Read

  • What does an expanded definition of social and emotional learning mean for school leaders?

  • With the constant tumult of the past year, teachers are stressed and districts are looking for solutions.

  • After years of unequal punishment for Black students, Dallas ISD moves toward a historic end to most suspensions.

| Chalkbeat

  • Educators across the country share how they are trying to meet the needs of their students, faculty, and parents during this challenging time.

  • Advances in neuroscience and psychology could lead to real-world benefits in education and mental health.
What's Next

  • Free CASEL webinar on how the American Rescue Plan (ARP) offers opportunity for long-term investments in SEL

  • Multi-session virtual conference for district and school leaders to engage on how schools can more effectively promote a commitment to justice

  • Free CASEL webinar on strategies educators can use to shape SEL learning opportunities that connect with young people’s lives and futures

  • Join four, two-hour sessions for school leaders beginning July 13, 2021

  • First-of-its-kind conference in the SEL & mindfulness space where educators will engage with the interrelated nature of racial and climate justice

  • Sign up to be alerted when registration opens for "Beyond Talk: Building Tomorrow Together"
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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.
LG is proud to partner with CASEL to advance SEL. The LG Experience Happiness platform is dedicated to bringing Sustainable Happiness Skills to youth across the country through collaboration, awareness and highly impactful SEL programming.