Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Performance Values



Scientists to Schools: Social, Emotional Development Crucial for Learning

Summary:  This article reports on a research brief – the product of a year of work by 28 academic researchers who study issues like student motivation, school climate, and social-emotional learning. The panel, known as the council of distinguished scientists, was organized by the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, which has set out to bring together educators, scientists, policy makers, and philanthropists to clarify a vision for social-emotional learning in schools.-

Source: Evie Blad, Education Week, September 13, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, School Culture/Climate, Core Values, Performance Values



Helping Teachers Thrive

Summary:  This article offers suggestions for school leaders to help their teachers build resilience as the new school year starts.  This is important in weathering the day-to-day storms but it also helps teachers to thrive!

Source:  Elena Agullar, Edutopia, August 21. 2017

Categories:  Leadership Qualities, Emotional Intelligence, Classroom Practice, Performance Values, Positive Relationships




How Can Educators Measure and Predict Grit in Their Students?

Summary:  This article reports on a study into some key indicators of grit by Dana Wazner.  The study included 45,626 students and 145 schools nationwide. Wanzer clarifies that grit is the development of passion and perseverance in students.  

Source:  Shelina Chatlani, Education DIVE, June 28, 2017

Categories: Grit, Performance Values, Student Engagement




The World Has Changed, Why Haven’t Our Schools?

By Tara Laughlin, Ed.D., Director of Curriculum at Pairin

Academic knowledge is so last century. It is widely recognized that students need more than this to be successful later in life, especially in our diverse, ever-changing global landscape. Many additional skills are necessary to build well-rounded individuals prepared for college and careers. Social and emotional skills make up one category of these essential skills, including attributes such as resiliency, stress management, empathy, social awareness, and self-confidence.

Incorporating social and emotional skills into the classroom is essential for many reasons. First, these skills provide a foundation on which academic success is built. Students trained in social and emotional skills had academic achievement scores which were an average of 11 percentile points higher than those who did not, according to a meta-analysis of 213 studies (Weissberg, et al., 2015). These students also tend to have better attitudes toward school and more positive relationships with peers and adults. In addition, there are numerous personal benefits such as lower instances of depression and stress along with reduced risk-taking and criminal behaviors. This is coupled with increased prosocial behavior as well as increased confidence, persistence, empathy, and more engaged citizenship.

There are also far-reaching implications of social and emotional learning for the changing workforce and the economy of the future. Originally, the U.S. system of education was designed to prepare students for a life of repetitive, industrialized work. Over time, the number of manual and routine jobs has steadily declined within the United States in favor of more complex, non-routine forms of employment, jobs which will require effective social and emotional skills. The following graph illustrates this trend.

Graph 1
(Image source: Pairin, 2015)


So given these massive global shifts and the significant benefits for students, why haven’t schools kept up? According to a recent study by the Education Week Research Center, only 34 percent of teachers are integrating social emotional learning into their classrooms, even minimally, even though 99 percent agree that social emotional learning increases student achievement, improves the school climate, and reduces school discipline problems.


(Image source: Pairin, 2015)


Educators understand that social and emotional skills are important for students. However, some resist making changes because they are worried these skills may not be teachable, measurable or possible to incorporate in a time-efficient manner. In addition, while the large majority of teachers want to integrate social and emotional skills into their curricula, many simply do not have the resources, training, or leeway from their superiors to do so. The fact that 84% of teachers surveyed want training on how to teach these skills indicates that they feel unprepared to make this shift. A systemic change in educational priorities is needed—one which affirms the reality that the world is different; one which grants social and emotional skills equal importance to traditional academic content; in other words, one which gives all students a real shot at success.


Autor, D., & Price, B. (2013). The changing task composition of the US labor market: An update of Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003). Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from

Education Week Research Center. (2015). Social and emotional learning: Perspectives from America’s schools. Retrieved from

Pairin. (2015, November 2). The methodology behind integrating essential college and career skills into everyday curricula. Retrieved from

Weissberg, R., Durlak, J.A., Domitrovich, C.E., & Gullotta, T.P. (2015, February 15). Why social and emotional learning is essential for students [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

World Economic Forum. (2016). New vision for education: Fostering social and emotional learning through technology. Retrieved from


Dr. Tara Laughlin is the Director of Curriculum at Pairin ( and a former teacher of 10 years.  She can be reached at





Can Batman Teach Grit?

Summary:  This article shows that pretending to be a superhero character can help students build perseverance and stay focused on an assigned task.  The study also supports the notion that spending more time on free play or role-playing can improve cognitive development.

Source: Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week, January 11, 2017

Categories:  Grit, Performance Values, Classroom Practice




Students as Leaders of Their Character Education

Summary:  This article tells the story of how student focus groups at Kings Middle School in Portland, Maine provided input in shaping the Habits of Work and Learning for the school.  Teachers and students worked together to come up with a workable set of targets and behaviors for the school.

Source: Caitlin LeClair, Education Week, August 19, 2016

Categories:  Character Education, Core Values, Performance Values, Student Voice



Happy Students

Nonacademic Skills Are the Necessary Foundation for Learning

Summary:  Most schools that focus solely on academic skills do not experience sustainable results. A growing body of research, drawn from the science of child development, demonstrates the extent of the impact that nonacademic and social-emotional skills—such as self-regulation, problem-solving, social awareness, and growth mindset—have on academic outcomes and success in the workforce and in life. While some label these skills as supplemental, recent studies have shown that what we have long considered to be the softer side of education is requisite for success.

Source: K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard, Education Week Commentary, July 22, 2016

Categories:  SEL Basics, Mindset, Performance Values, Student Achievement



Java Printing

Ethics Education: A National Imperative

Summary:  This article by James Wagner, outgoing president of Emory University, supports a call for ethics education in K-12 grades.  The article provides benefits of including ethics education in the curriculum as well as challenges in implementing such a program.  Wagner writes from the perspective of his role as Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Source:  James Wagner, Education Week Commentary, July 14, 2016

Categories: Core Values, Performance Values, Ethics



Paul Tough

Q&A With Paul Tough: Environment Matters for Student Success

Summary:  This is an interview with author Paul Tough who has written books on education including “How Children Succeed” and “Helping Children Succeed” which have focused on social-emotional learning as a major force in promoting student success.  He advocates an environmental approach with a focus on helping disadvantaged children who need a paradigm change to succeed.

Source:  Kate Stoltzfus, Education Week Commentary, June 30, 2016

Categories:  Student Achievement, Performance Values, School Culture and Climate, SEL Basics



The Trouble With Grit

Summary:  In this article, the author poses important points about what he calls the current “grit-mania.” His point is that grit alone may not lead to the kinds of successes that are often reported.  There are certainly other factors at work that help secure that success.  With that said, he does note that grit is a value that can help to promote success.

Source:  Dave Powell, Education Week, May 29, 2016

Categories:  Grit, Performance Values, Student Achievement