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Special 2019 SEL Exchange Edition
On October 2-4, more than 1,500 educators, researchers, policymakers, advocates, philanthropists, and national and global leaders gathered for the inaugural Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Exchange, hosted by CASEL in Chicago.

CASEL brought together this wide range of SEL stakeholders to share cutting-edge research, innovative insights, and best practices to support our overarching goal: All students benefit from high-quality, effective, systemic SEL implementation.
Key Insights
More than 92% of surveyed participants said they left with new insights they can use in their work, advancing the field's efforts to increase awareness and adoption of high-quality SEL. Presenters, panelists, and attendees discussed a wide range of topics and issues. Following are key themes and insights.
Equity and Diversity
Takeaway: SEL can provide the skills and competencies to have the types of honest discussions and purposeful actions that help support equity in education.

We heard from a panel that CASEL Vice President of Research Robert Jagers called “a new generation of leaders” in SEL and equity. As they shared their perspectives, we learned that there are four key elements to addressing equity relationships, student voice, reflection on race and racism, and taking action and that recognizing our ultimate connectedness is central to both SEL and equity.  

We also learned about the importance of welcoming a diverse range of voices into the SEL movement. Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and Congressman Tim Ryan warned against insularity, urging us to step outside the circle of “usual participants” to ensure SEL remains a common interest.

In our breakout sessions, we delved deeper into how SEL can be effective in service of equity. We heard often about resource allocation – those who need more should get more – while social justice helps us understand the “why” of inequity (that is, how systems are set up to privilege some and disadvantage others).
The Importance of Youth Voice
Takeaway: We cannot work for youth, we must work with them. 

As Eric Moore of Minneapolis Public Schools noted, “If students feel their voices aren’t valued, then they’ll go to where they do feel valued and engaged.”

We were thrilled to hear from students themselves throughout the SEL Exchange, from innovative and moving pieces delivered by members of Kuumba Lynx and Mikva Challenge’s Soapbox Project , to presentations by Chicago Cred , City Year , InspirEd , and Peace First Fellow Tony Weaver

Students shared more on their experience of SEL. In one session, when asked how she would respond to a teacher who says, “I’m not here to talk about issues and problems; I’m here to teach you math,” one student answered, “You cannot teach me math unless you talk about my other issues.” 
Adult SEL is a Key First Step
Takeaway: Adult knowledge and behavior is critical to SEL implementation since adults provide an important context for students’ SEL development, as well as an opportunity to extend SEL beyond the school walls.

Meria Castarphen , superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, summed up why cultivating SEL among adults is so important: “If we just made sure that every student had one consistent, caring adult, we would be giving hope.” Focusing on adult SEL also communicates a key message: Our children do not need to be "fixed." Instead, we need to fix the systems in our schools and districts to ensure all students thrive. 

We also learned how important it is to include community partners and families. By cultivating expertise in SEL among all the adults who impact students’ lives, we provide a more supportive overall environment for their development and a consistent experience of SEL.
SEL and the Future of Work
Takeaway: We have to think differently about how we prepare and support the workforce.  

The plenary session on “The Future of Work,” featured representatives from the business, research, and education communities. We learned that employers are increasingly focused on competency-based hiring, and that SEL skills are recognized as assets that make for successful, long-term employees. 

We also learned that SEL is important for those in leadership roles. “If we have leaders who don’t show social and emotional competencies, they won’t be leaders for long,” said Audrey Williams-Lee , senior vice president of human resources and talent acquisition at Hyatt Hotels.
These themes were central to the plenary sessions. Learn more
Stay connected.
Didn’t attend? These videos offer a glimpse of the 2019 SEL Exchange and more videos will be coming soon. Recaps: Day 1 and Day 2

Join the conversation . Post your key takeaways and insights on social media: 

Find out about the 2020 SEL Exchange. Sign up here to receive registration details and updates on the 2020 SEL Exchange as soon as it is announced.
Thank You to Our Sponsors
We are so grateful for the significant role our funders played in helping launch this inaugural effort.
As we celebrate CASEL's 25th anniversary, join us in supporting SEL for the next 25 years.