December 2018
Newsletter of the Center for Educational Improvement
Measuring SEL & School Climate
Dear Educators,

Trauma is rampant. Whether it is the impact of natural disasters, the enormous number of children living poverty, violence on TV and in the media, school shootings, or bullying or academic failure, students are suffering and needing support.

Whether it is support for trauma-informed schools, mindfulness, or social emotional learning, educators and educational policy-makers are looking at ways to help alleviate the impact of trauma.

In this months' Wow!, we share information on S-CCATE, the measure you helped us validate last year in a study with over 800 respondents. We also look at the other approaches to measuring SEL and school climate. In our third article this month, we focus on one approach to SEL - mindfulness - comparing practices in the U.S. and Canada.
S-CCATE: A More Effective Classroom Climate Measurement Tool
By Dana Asby & Daniella Rueda, CEI Interns

Throughout the years, it has become apparent that content knowledge alone is not enough to prepare students for real-life issues such as decision making, managing emotions, building and maintaining positive relationships, and treating others and themselves with empathy and compassion. Principals and teachers dedicated to creating a positive school climate that reinforces these skills know that social emotional learning (SEL) is an essential part of every school curriculum.

Academic researcher Joseph Zins (2004) reminds us that “Schools are social places and learning is a social process. Students do not learn alone but rather in collaboration with their teachers, in the company of their peers, and with the support of their families”(p 3). While many reliable and valid measures of certain components of SEL and/or classroom climate have helped administrators, teachers, and researchers understand more about how effectively they are supporting the social and emotional lives of students, none address the combination of elements that are measured by the School Compassionate Culture Analytic Tool for Educators (S-CCATE) (Mason, et al ., 2018). 

Leaders in Educational Research & Development Want More Robust Measures of Social Emotional Learning
By Dana Asby, CEI Intern

Those who have spent time in a classroom know that children cannot begin learning when they are preoccupied with the sting of their friend’s harsh words, the anxiety over a remark a parent uttered at drop off, or the fear that their report card will earn them a spanking at home. When anxious, our brains become overwhelmed with strong feelings so that there is not room for complex thinking. Leaders in education, from developmental psychologists researching these topics to government officials who determine where educational funding gets allocated, are increasingly focused on understanding how students’ social-emotional lives affect their academic achievement.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has made the creation of socio-emotional learning (SEL) assessments its focus for a three year collaborative effort called the Establishing Practical Social-Emotional Competence Assessments of Preschool to High School Students Project.

Comparing Mindfulness Practices across the United States and Canada
By Lindsey Erin Feltis, CEI Intern, and Kaitlyn Butterfield, Canadian Graduate Student

When Christopher and colleagues compared mindfulness in the United States and Thailand, their research revealed important differences between the two countries, suggesting that Western and Eastern conceptualizations of mindfulness differ significantly (Christopher, Charoensuk, Gilbert, Neary & Pearce, 2009, p. 607). When comparing mindfulness practices in the United States and Thailand, it may be a case of “apples and oranges,” but when comparing mindfulness practices in the United States and Canada, it can eloquently be described as comparing apples to… other apples (Christopher et al., 2009). In this article we will explore how mindfulness began in the United States and Canada, look at mindfulness research and practices in the two countries and then end with the many ways both countries use mindfulness in their schools in attempts to create better, stronger, learners and leaders (Viglas & Perlman, 2018; Mak, Wittingham, Cunnington & Boyd, 2018; Schonert-Reichl & Stewart Lawlor, 2010).

Looking for Holiday Gifts? Now available on Amazon!

CEI’s S-CCATE™ tool is a validated instrument
that measures teacher feedback on social-emotional learning interventions.

It is designed to improve the mindfulness, compassion, courage, equity, neuroplasticity, and cultural competence of K-12 students .

Available January 2019
Why Measure?

There is a saying that "what we measure, we improve." 

If you care about children's well-being -- if you know the research about the detrimental impact of trauma on child health, well-being, and academic achievement-- then you will want to adopt a measure of SEL. CEI's S-CCATE, an online tool that teachers can complete in 12-1 5 minutes, will be available in January 2019. Look for our upcoming announcements to find out how to order it for your school or district.

Christine Mason
Center for Educational Improvement