Adult SEL Skills: A Foundation for Building Student SEL Skills

Schools and out-of-school time (OST) programs across the United States are increasingly prioritizing and implementing practices to support children’s social and emotional development. A new report from the RAND Corporation provides early implementation lessons from six communities about how to enact social and emotional learning (SEL) in elementary schools and in OST programs. These communities participate in a Wallace Foundation– funded initiative called the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI). Through PSELI, The Wallace Foundation seeks to explore whether and how children will benefit if adults in schools and OST programs collaborate to improve climate and to foster SEL that is mutually reinforced during and outside the school day, as well as what it takes to do this work. 

Findings are organized into the following four topics: 

  1. Executing system-level activities to launch and coordinate SEL work across multiple sites 
  2. Developing district-OST and school-OST partnerships 
  3. Developing adults’ capacity to promote SEL 
  4. Improving climate and delivering SEL instruction to students. 

As an example, findings related to the need to develop adults’ capacity to promote SEL include the following:

  • View adult SEL skills as a foundation for building student SEL skills. 
  • Include hands-on practice and in PD and as the SEL work progresses, focus on differentiation of SEL instruction. 
  • Plan for staff turnover. 
  • Listen to staff concerns. 
  • Centralize the delivery of at least some SEL PD for frontline staff, especially the PD about the SEL curriculum. 
  • Use SEL coaches to help schools and OST programs deliver SEL instruction. 

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