Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

School Culture / Climate



Study Group

Embedding SEL Across the Curriculum

Summary:  The ability to manage time and attention, to direct learning, to read social situations and to work productively with others–these are the types of character strengths that will most determine success in school, life and work.  This article also lists various schools and districts across the country as examples where SEL has been successfully embedded.

Source:  Tom Vander Ark and Mary Ryerse, Education Week, March 27, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Character Education, School Culture/Climate




Anatomy of School Bullying

Summary:  This article provides information from a report on school bullying that was published by the National Center for Education Statistics identifying the “hot spots” for bullying around the school building.  They identified the transitional areas between classrooms as the places where bullying was most likely to occur.

Source:  Stephen Merrill, Edutopia, March 21, 2017

Categories:  Anti-Bullying, School Culture/Climate, SEL Research



Dark brick wall - LGBT rights

Montville Township (NJ) High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance

By Catherine Lomauro, Student Assistance Counselor, Montville Township (NJ) High School

Montville Township (New Jersey) High School’s Gay Straight Alliance was the subject of the School Spotlight presentation at the November School Support Network meeting at the College of Saint. Elizabeth ( The Gay-Straight Alliance provides a supportive, inclusive environment for students, and a safe space to ask questions and share experiences. Topics of discussion at Gay-Straight Alliance meetings have included practicing means of self-advocacy at school, at home, and in the world, sharing experiences of encountering bias and lack of understanding, discussing current events relevant to students’ experiences as part of the LGBT+ community, and sponsoring observances (including Ally Week and Day of Silence). Overall, the Gay-Straight Alliance provides students with a sense of belonging and connectedness – both to each other, and to the school community.

LGBT+ youth need support from faculty, staff, students, and administration as a foundational piece of their future success, both academically and personally. Being a part of the Gay-Straight Alliance helps students to combat internalized homophobia and transphobia, helping to create a more positive self-image. The Gay-Straight Alliance contributes to creating positive school climate, showing that schools can be a part of social change by ensuring that LGBT+ students’ feeling safe and protected is a critical priority for all facets of the school community. This is because doing so models for other students that LGBT+ classmates are their peers, worthy of respect and acceptance.

Words from students themselves illustrate the value of their involvement in the GSA . One student shared that, “GSA is important to me because we can learn from each other about what it means to be happy about ourselves.” Another student said that, “GSA means a lot to me because it is important to recognize the anxiety and fear that LGBT kids live with.” Other responses include that time spent with the GSA felt like a “relief” and that it can serve as a means to “bring important issues to light.”

Protecting LGBT+ students is a way to protect all students because it gives us an opportunity to model humanity, empathy, fairness, and tolerance to the community as a whole – a mission that the Gay-Straight Alliance shares and promotes at Montville Township High School. Now, more than ever, schools and communities must reaffirm their commitment to tolerance and inclusion, especially for LGBT+ students.

Catherine Lomauro is Faculty Advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance. For more information about Montville Township High Schools Gay Straight Alliance, please go to the webpage:




Golden star

Suspensions Plummet in NYC School That Incentivizes Good Behavior

Summary:  This article reports on efforts at a NYC middle school to address discipline issues by focusing on social-emotional characteristics such as citizenship and empathy.  They found that by tracking positive behaviors as well as discipline issues, and awarding badges for those positive behaviors, they could shift the school culture to a more positive approach.

Source: Tara Garcia Mathewson, Education DIVE, February 21, 2017

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



Scales of justice atop legal books

When School Doesn’t Seem Fair, Students May Suffer Lasting Effects

Summary:  When students believe schools are unfair places, their loss of trust can lead to a lack of engagement that affects them for years, researchers say.

Source:  Evie Blad, Education Week, February 14, 2017

Categories:  School Culture/Climate, Core Values, Educational Equity



Happy Teacher

Study: Teacher Satisfaction, Collaboration Are Keys to Student Achievement

Summary:  Teachers who are happy and satisfied with their job are probably better at it, past research (and general wisdom) has said. But a new study looks at exactly how teacher satisfaction affects student achievement—and how being a part of a professional learning community can make a major difference.

Source:  Madeline Will, Education Week. February 16, 2017

Categories:  Teacher Satisfaction, Teacher Engagement, School Culture/Climate



Making Sure Students Feel Safe in Uncertain Times

Summary:  By all measures, Safety is one of the most, if not THE most important dimension of school climate and culture.  While there are many issues that are school-wide, the classroom is the place where safety – both physical and emotional – is required if learning is to occur.  This article underscores the importance of the teacher’s role in providing that safe environment in troubling times.

Source:  Julie Jee, Education Week, February 8, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, Core Values, School Culture/Climate, Student Safety




If Teachers Think Like Managers, They Could Make Happier Classrooms

Summary:  Three educator-researchers analyzed the strategies of managers in the nation’s best-run organizations to bring back strategies for creating positive cultures and productive environments to classrooms.

Source:  Tara Garcia Matthewson, Education Dive, February 9, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, School Culture/Climate



How to Embrace the Student Engagement Challenge

Summary:  This article describes a high school that claims “100% Student Engagement, 100% of the time.”  This is a lofty claim and it took tremendous effort to get there.  Read about how this school placed a laser focus on student engagement.

Source:  Ben Owens, Education Week, January 24, 2017

Categories:  Student Engagement, Student Voice, Classroom Practice, School Culture/Climate



SEL Part of NYC Charter’s Foundation

Summary:  The Renaissance Charter School in New York City has incorporated a focus on social-emotional learning as a founding premise of the school since its opening in 1993.  The school provides for morning meetings at the elementary level and advisory periods in middle and high school to address the social and emotional needs of students.

Source:  Tara Garcia Mathewson, Education Dive, January 24, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, School Culture and Climate, Classroom Practice