SSS

Student Support Services

Memo: Introducing New Guidance and Resources for Social Emotional Learning

TO:            BOCES District Superintendents, Superintendents of Public School Districts,
                  Principals of Public Schools, School Counselors
FROM:       Kathleen R. DeCataldo
SUBJECT:  Introducing New Guidance and Resources for Social Emotional Learning
DATE:        March 18, 2019

New guidance and resources are available for school districts to support the implementation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL).

Social Emotional Learning: A Guide to Systemic Whole School Implementation (pdf icon 1.77 MB) provides resources and tools to support districts, schools, and individual educators in their work to create schools that effectively prepare all students to succeed in school and in life. Systemic whole school implementation of SEL encourages safe, supportive school communities in which all young people are valued. The Guide is designed as a reference to be used in whole or in part, depending on the role and needs of the reader, school or district. For example, an administrator beginning to engage in SEL planning might opt to read the document from beginning to end; a Dignity Act Coordinator might first read the section on School Culture/School Climate and SEL; or a classroom teacher might first read the section on SEL and Instruction.

Additionally, several district-developed content area crosswalk documents will provide examples of ways SEL can be incorporated in and aligned with subject area content to support State standards. Additional crosswalks will be posted as they become available.

These tools and resources build upon guidance and benchmarks released in May, 2018, including New York State Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks for voluntary implementation and Social Emotional Learning: Essential for Learning, Essential for Life (pdf icon 1.41 MB), a framework explaining SEL concepts, and the need for and benefit of SEL in NY.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), social emotional learning “is the process through which children, youth and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to: understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions.” CASEL has identified Five Core SEL Competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making.

  • Research shows that students who received SEL instruction exhibited the following results:
  • achievement scores are 11-13 points higher;
  • improved attitudes and behaviors, including motivation to learn, commitment to school, and engagement in the classroom;
  • fewer negative behaviors, including disruptive classroom behaviors, non-compliance, aggression, and disciplinary referrals; and
  • reduced emotional stress, including student depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal.

Effective SEL implementation for students requires that adults in the school community develop and regularly practice their own social and emotional competencies, including practicing effective stress management and self-care, and engaging in mutually supportive relationships with other adults in the school community. Boards of education and district and school administrators are critical in establishing and leading school environments that support the social and emotional well-being of all adults in the school community as meaningfully as they support the well-being of students. Schools and districts that are planning for SEL implementation are encouraged to focus on the adults in the school community for the first six months to a year before implementing SEL strategies with students. Those already implementing SEL are encouraged to assess the extent of SEL supports for adults in the school or district community. Adult SEL should be inclusive of school leaders, teachers, specialized support staff, school health professionals, mental health professionals, substance abuse specialists, representatives of school-based prevention or intervention initiatives, non-instructional staff (e.g. bus drivers, cafeteria staff, clerical staff), the Dignity Act Coordinator, community-based organizations providing services in the school, and student and parent representatives.

As a strategy to promote equity in education for all children, social emotional learning is a key component in the New York State Department of Education’s work with the New York State Safe Schools Task Force, developing a School Climate Index, and providing resources to support mental health education in schools.

New York State’s recently approved ESSA Plan placed an emphasis on the importance of social emotional development and well-being. Fostering the development of SEL competencies for all students and adults in schools and communities supports the ESSA Plan priorities to improve academic achievement and graduation rates, improve school climate, and increase educational equity.

Questions regarding this guidance should be directed to NYSED’s Office of Student Support Services at 518-486-6090 or studentsupportservices@nysed.gov.

Last Updated: April 2, 2019