Implementing school-wide social and emotional learning

Peter Ji and Roger Weissberg explain how schools can successfully implement social and emotional learning programs, and assess their progress with a specialist ‘toolkit’ 

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL) programs are designed to help students develop the competencies they need to manage their emotions, develop caring for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, and handle challenging situations effectively. Schools that effectively implement evidence-based SEL programs do achieve successful outcomes. However, implementing SEL programs is challenging for many schools. Reasons for this include: lack of support from school leadership, limited professional development for staff, failure to adopt evidence-based programming, and the inability to integrate SEL into school operations. Understandably, educators need models and strategies to guide their efforts to implement SEL with quality.

What we know
● Implementing social and emotional learning (SEL) programs with quality is difficult.
● We developed a model and rubric that assesses the quality of SEL program implementation in schools and helps them plan for improvement.
● Using the rubric, we assessed the implementation quality of SEL programs in participating Illinois schools over 2½ years and found they made considerable progress.

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February 2010