Starting with the Classroom

States, districts and partners around the country are looking to social and emotional learning (SEL) as critical to student learning and academic success. As the field learns more about how students learn, and develop, the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in school and life, challenges and big questions remain: How can we ensure that SEL instruction is of high quality and significant rigor? What does it mean to truly integrate SEL into academic instruction and the school day so that it isn’t “one more thing” for teachers? What supports – professional development and curricular materials – will help educators design instruction that successfully reaches and teaches students these critical competencies?

This website is designed to address these questions from the perspective of the adults who matter most in student learning: teachers. Explore the experiences of teachers in Nashville, Los Angeles and the Chicago suburbs as they reflect on their own practice, and share their lessons and techniques.

Los Angeles, California

City Charter Schools of Los Angeles consists of two charter schools that were founded with SEL at the heart of how and what they teach. By advancing key SEL practices in their classrooms, the schools are creating an environment that they hope will accelerate students’ academic, social and emotional growth.

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Nashville, Tennessee

Every year, Metro Nashville Public Schools welcomes students who are overcoming trauma, who speak limited English and have little or no experience in a classroom. Teachers see SEL as essential in helping these Students with Interrupted Formal Education adjust, learn and ultimately, thrive.

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Arlington Heights, Illinois

Throughout District 59 in the Chicago suburbs, teachers are putting SEL at the core of their instructional practice. As a result of their collaborative efforts to grow student SEL competencies, student-directed academic environments are beginning to flourish in Arlington Heights.

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Stories from the SEL blog

  • student learning spanish

    “For me that’s a big thing—seeing them take over the classroom in a way that helps them feel like I’m not always the one who is going to be at the front of the classroom.”

    Esther Gutierrez
    First Grade Teacher, City Language Immersion Charter School
  • student group

    “It's easy for us to think that telling a child to listen teaches them to listen. But those are two very different things.”

    Katie Ahsell
    Director of Social and Emotional Learning and Equity, CCSD59
  • “What's working is having these explicit lessons every day, where we've reflected and spend a week diving into that skill. And then we'll see a change in our students.”

    Rachel Asres
    SIFE Teacher, McMurray Middle School