Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

SEL Basics



Success Clock

Why Emotionally Intelligent People Are More Successful

Summary:  This article summarizes research connecting emotional intelligence (EQ) with success in business.  There are also some ideas about hiring practices which involve an inventory of EQ skills to identify potential candidates.

Source:  Harvey Deutschendorf, Fast Company, June 22, 2015

Categories:  Emotional Intelligence, SEL Basics, SEL Research, Leadership Qualities




Social Emotional Learning: It Starts with Teachers

Summary:  This special report provides access to several articles covering the importance of SEL and how teachers can support social emotional learning in their classrooms.

Source:  Education Week Special Report, June 7, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Educational Equity, Mindfulness, Teacher Training



Boy Crisis

Is Social-Emotional Learning Really Going to Work for Students of Color?

Summary:  This article broaches the subject of SEL and equity.  Dena Simmons, a black educator and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.  Speaks to this issue and suggests how to discover your own biases and make SEL instruction meaningful to students.

Source:  Dena Simmons, Education Week, June 7, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Educational Equity




Happy Teachers Practice Self-Care

Summary:  This article suggests that social emotional competence for teachers is a necessary ingredient for social emotional learning for their students.  The writer talks about a series of activities for teachers that are designed to improve their own SEL while contributing to their happiness.

Source: Madeline Will, Education Week, June 7, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Teacher Collaboration, Teacher Satisfaction, Mindfulness



Report Card

Is Your Child Showing Grit? School Report Cards Rate Students’ Soft Skills

Summary:  This article sums up efforts to include SEL skills as an element of school report cards.  This article mentions efforts across the country to focus on these “soft skills” as an important part of student development.  Maurice Elias and Angela Duckworth are extensively quoted in this article.

Source:  Evie Blad, Education Week, June 6, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Emotional Intelligence, Student Achievement, Parent Engagement



Informatics workshop at university

Integrating Social and Emotional Competencies Into Academic Content

Summary:  Collaboration, problem solving, and social awareness are social-emotional skills that our necessary to our children’s success.  Maurice Elias shares how these skills could be incorporated in academics with an example lesson in eighth grade science class.

Source:  Maurice Elias, Edutopia, May 15, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Classroom Practice, SEL Teacher Training



Pickeral Graphic

Creating the Conditions in Support of Collective Wisdom

by Terry Pickeral

My colleague, Dr. Maurice Elias authored a recent blog titled The Power of Collective Wisdom (link: He discusses successful strategies to effectively implement education programs in high-risk environments.

According to Elias, “We increase our chances of success by tapping collective wisdom. That refers to the wisdom of our own school community, of other implementers of the same program, and of the wider implementation world.”

“Collective wisdom—referred to by such names as professional learning communities (PLCs), communities of practice, and networked improvement communities—allows each of us to benefit from the experience of many of us. Success is in the ongoing process, in being able to adjust to the inevitable and numerous deviations from the plan that will befall any school-based intervention attempt, even with the best evidence-based program,” continues Elias.

I believe that engaging others in our implementation strategies is a critical element to deepen and broaden an education program and corresponding practices.  However from my experiences there are inherent challenges to creating and sustaining effective collective wisdom communities in schools.

First, schools are not consistently organized to support school wide collaboration often structured on grade level and/or academic subject partnerships.

Second, teachers, staff and administrators are not always aware of the range of attributes of their colleagues and thus less able to maximize their contributions to collaborative strategies.

Third, schools may not create and sustain a safe environment for teachers, staff and administrators to share their experiences, ideas, strategies and resources.

Fourth, as we focus on the wisdom of our school community we do not always consider students, parents and community partners as potential members of our communities of practice.

Overcoming these challenges is not impossible as evidenced by the increasing number of schools committed to and trained for sustaining professional learning communities.  I believe schools can make creating and sustaining collective wisdom networks a priority if they:

  1. Focus on all school constituents;
  2. Ensure each is supported to contribute to the network;
  3. Understand the many attributes of colleagues and constituents and maximize their diverse knowledge, skills and dispositions;
  4. Measure and improve the school’s climate (quality and character) to provide a safe, equitable and engaging environment for each member of the network to effectively contribute; and
  5. Frequently monitor the progress and success of the network to continuously improve each participant’s attributes and the positive impact on students.

Maximizing the collective wisdom in schools can and should become a normal part of engagement, implementation and sustainability strategies ensuring each member of the school community contributes and benefits from these formal networks.


Terry Pickeral, has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations, evaluation and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.

Link to Terry Pickeral’s Blog…




Classroom Learning Mathematics Students Study Concept

Madam Secretary, Help Us Improve Social-Emotional Learning

Summary:  This article, in the form of a letter to the secretary of education, advocates for a more universal approach to social-emotional learning in our schools.  The authors also list nine effective practices for social-emotional learning in schools.

Source:  Maurice Elias et al, Phi Delta Kappan, May 2017

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




Social-Emotional Learning as a Pathway to Student Well-being, Confidence, and Success

By Connie Sanchez, Executive Director, Unity Charter School, Morristown, NJ

Building a positive climate to reinforce a student’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been part of Unity Charter School’s culture and climate since its inception in 1998. Unity Charter School is located in Morristown, New Jersey and is a K-8 school. As a Positive Discipline school, we strive to ensure all of our students thrive academically, while developing the social-emotional skill set to be successful well beyond their Unity years.

At Unity Charter School, we understand the importance of social and emotional learning for the student’s wellbeing and as an important factor in contributing to a student’s confidence and success as a learner and as an active member of the school community. We strive to create relationships that allow our students to form positive attachments with each other and with adults, and to thrive. In addition, we are equally committed to maintaining a positive climate in which all stakeholders are supported. Teachers are supported with Positive Discipline professional development throughout the year and regularly scheduled sessions in which teachers help teachers to resolve problems with individual students in the classroom, self reflect, and expand their own skills. Parents are offered free workshops and ongoing opportunities to bring SEL concepts into the home environment.

We teach self-awareness, self-regulation, conflict resolution and reflective decision making skills throughout the school day by taking the time with students to model behaviors, use self and other affirming language, and make positive choices. Experiential integration is an important factor in supporting internalization of what we teach and practice during more structured class time, and during whole school meetings. We value our students’ competencies as learners and provide instructional opportunities that reinforce self-efficacy through collaboration, exploratory learning, questioning, and discovery. This instructional approach invites teachers to facilitate the learning process while students are trusted to construct meaning independently or collectively.

Unity Charter School does have more formal, structured times for students to learn, explore and practice social-emotional skills through daily 30 minute class meetings and whole school meetings.   Younger students in the lower school begin each day with a community meeting. During this time students compliment and acknowledge each other. They are introduced to visitors in the school, and celebrate special occasions in each other’s lives (e.g., birthdays, a sports victory, or a community service project). Class meetings provide daily opportunities for students and teachers to form relationships, to be seen as individuals, to understand cultural differences and to learn and practice new social skills in a supportive environment.

At Unity, we provide students many opportunities to develop their voices and to be heard. Students participate in Democratic Governance, make suggestions for improving campus life, and have their own Climate and Culture team. The administration and faculty has an open door policy where students are ecouraged to present ideas, voice concerns, or talk about challenges they face at home or at school.

We are aware that students come through our doors with histories and life challenges that may impede their abilities to learn these skills and we have developed a system of supports to help build trust and feelings of safety. One prevalent reason children struggle seems to be exposure to childhood trauma. Trauma -related experiences (particularly in childhood), undermine attachments, thereby creating a cycle of further trauma, intra psychic distress and alienation from sources of support.

To address this, we adopted a no suspension policy. Students who are struggling with secure attachment in school don’t benefit from being home suspended. Research indicates the contrary. At Unity students receive an alternative learning space assignment. They may spend the day with the Dean of Students, the Director of Curriculum or the Executive Director. This depends on who has an established relationship with the child. The day is spent doing classwork. This prevents a child from getting further behind and provides an opportunity to have heartfelt conversations with an adult they trust in school and to reflect on what has happened. The reflection continues that evening at home with the parent. In more extreme situations, Unity Charter School has established relationships with community resources. Support outside of school is coordinated with our Dean of Students, a member of our Special Education department and our School Counselor, whose primary job is counseling students.

Mutual respect, self-advocacy, and a sense of trust in the adults that surround them instills a willingness in our students to dare to be themselves in an atmosphere of acceptance while developing empathy and awareness for others. This frees them to delve into their passions and set a course for the future that reflects who they are as individuals who also have the ability to work collaboratively with others towards a common goal.

Connie Sanchez, Executive Director





Teachers Weave Social-Emotional Learning Into Academics

Summary:  This article focuses on how social emotional learning can be infused into academic learning through strategies such as peer interactions and reflective conversations.  The article also suggests strategies that can be used in core subjects such as reading and math.

Source:  Evie Blad, Education Week, May 5, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Classroom Practice, Student Achievement