Find great SEL resources from 2018-19 award-winning teachers and leaders.
Since 2016, the Social and Emotional Learning Fund has supported teachers implementing social and emotional learning in their classrooms. We celebrate and support fresh ideas and projects that create places, environments and practices that value belonging, well-being, tolerance, compassion, listening, non-violence, inclusiveness, working productively together and looking out for one another both as distinct skills or integrated within academics.
Meet the 2018-2019 Innovation Awardees. We’re thrilled to put their innovative work on display through our second edition of SEL in Action: Social and Emotional Learning Innovation Awards for Teachers and Districts.
This book and website showcase the highlights, challenges, tips and tricks to include SEL in schools and classrooms. It’s full of creative ideas and powerful stories of educators leading the way for more equitable, compassionate and creative environments for students. We hope that you’ll learn from their experience and adapt it into your own communities. We invite you to download a digital copy (40MB).
Flip through the book to discover SEL in action. Explore the resources below to learn from the tools that guided these innovative teachers and leaders every step of the way.
“Project LIT Community is a national, grassroots literacy movement that empowers students as readers and leaders. We are committed to increasing access to high-quality, culturally relevant books and promoting a love of reading in schools and communities across the country. Over the past two years, Maplewood High School students and their English teacher, Dr. Jarred Amato, have seen their project expand to more than 400 chapters across 44 states. You can follow our journey at @projectlitcomm!”
“The SEL Innovation Award for Teachers will be used to support the Agents of Change programming at Disney II Magnet school and professional development for myself and colleagues. Cooperating teachers will facilitate contemporary art making activities for the entire school population through schoolwide initiatives and grade band projects that promote SEL skills and competencies and develop a sense of belonging within the school community. The afterschool Agents of Change will support the schools’ African American students’ SEL needs and their families and will aim to strengthen their school experience through the development of SEL competencies of teachers and school staff. The Agents of Change will use contemporary art as a vehicle to build SEL competencies and create projects that are civically engaged while developing a sense of belonging.”
“Improv to Improve (i2i) seeks to bring improvisational exercises into classrooms as a means to teach social and emotional competencies to students. The implementation of these games in the classroom enables teachers to explicitly teach children an emotional vocabulary, how to appropriately respond to one’s own emotional condition and be empathetic towards the feelings of others, and to hone speaking and listening skills. The games foster a positive community environment of learning and fun. They are aligned with social and emotional learning competencies, WIDA Standards for ESOL students and Common Core Standards for speaking and listening. And they’re fun.”
“Katherine Smith Elementary has two primary SEL goals. First, empower upper-grade students to work alongside teachers to reflect on the skills and strategies they’ve learned in communication, de-escalation, conflict resolution and 12 self-regulating tools and to plan how to provide support and reflection to primary grade students. This process will be student-driven, where students become the leaders and are equipped with the tools and strategies needed to be the problem-solvers in real life. Our second goal is to provide parents with the same skills and strategies so that they will be successful in maintaining and developing student’s social and emotional well-being at home.”
“The Freshman Seminar/Senior Mentoring Program at Cumberland Regional High School in Cumberland County, New Jersey partners at-risk freshmen with role model Senior Mentors to support the ninth-graders’ transition to high school. Senior Mentors and freshmen work together during and outside of class time on character and leadership development, social and emotional learning, the promotion of positive school culture and healthy relationships, and progressing toward goals related to academic and social success. In addition to working together on research and presentation projects in the credit-bearing course, Senior Mentors provide support staying organized, effectively utilizing resources and managing stressors and challenges in healthy ways.”
“Goodrich High School will implement a Peer-to-Peer support program in 2018-2019. This program involves general education peers modeling typical academic and social behavior throughout the school day for students with disabilities. This peer support promotes independence and socialization skills and increases a sense of belonging within natural environments such as classrooms, the cafeteria and assemblies and at dances and sporting events. This grant will provide the necessary funding to transition these new skills into authentic teenage environments. It will also enable our school to motivate and celebrate our peer mentors for being leaders in our school and community.”
“The grant funds will go toward growing the spirit of peer mentorship and student leadership in the city of Anchorage, the state of Alaska and nationally. We will use funding for technology to enable the South Anchorage Peer Mentors to host and participate in webinars, to work with schools and districts who desire support starting their own programs and to team up with similar school groups around the nation to share best practices in student leadership and peer mentoring. We will also use funding to support transportation costs and teacher/advisor substitute time for local and state-wide face-to-face collaboration with schools who are starting their own peer mentorship programs and who desire our support. We are proud of the peer mentorship program we have built over many years at South Anchorage High School, and we are excited to share our SEL work with others and to learn from and work with other successful programs around the nation.”
“We will strengthen Denver North High School’s collaborative restorative approach platform in order to support students in the development of the skills needed to limit future verbal and physical altercations. A safety officer and a school counselor will facilitate an eight-week group intervention twice a year for students who have been involved in conflicts with peers. The group will focus on coping, communication and conflict resolution skills. Students who have been involved in peer conflict will have the option to join this group. In the group, students will work to replace combative behaviors with proactive communication skills.”
“Our teachers and staff are our front line. As we continue to build a trauma-sensitive school, the weight of teaching and carrying the stories of students becomes heavy. Research shows that investing in staff is critical to this work. Our project involves focusing on staff, providing training on SEL competencies, stress, compassion fatigue and self-care. We want to equip our staff with knowledge and practical skills to use throughout the school year as we do this rewarding, challenging work. Desert Cove is grateful to receive this award that will allow us to be our best for our students.”
“We are seeking to pilot three virtual reality 'relaxation stations' in different settings in our school. These stations will be equipped to allow students to immerse themselves in a relaxing setting with the option of doing short guided meditations. We are hoping to both decrease acute moments of anxiety that can lead to students missing class time as well as ubiquitous stress that can detract from the learning experience. Our hope is that these relaxation strategies will provide another tool that our students can utilize to increase their ability to attend school by identifying and regulating their emotions and managing anxiety.”
“Wonderland Elementary aims to provide quality public education that nurtures the whole child for the diverse ethnic and socio-economic landscape of Los Angeles through its magnet program. The SEL Innovation Awards for Teachers will support our Korean immigrant population. Wonderland uses Way of Council to create a culture of communication, collaboration, problem solving and reflection through the power of one’s voice. It develops life-long skills by reflecting upon the other’s points of view and creating positive changes to conflict. The award will help fund materials and translations into the Korean language to create a more inclusive community.”
“Amphitheater High School is a Title 1 school in Tucson, AZ. Over 10% of students are English learners, including a large population of refugees/SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education). Most face social and emotional struggles with the pressures of fitting into an American education system. Our project includes collaboration with a local museum for art therapy activities, creating student-led multilingual dictionaries for mathematics support, cooperative games and real-world activities. We will promote participation, engagement and safe risk-taking in the mathematics classroom. We aim to reduce students’ anxiety, support healing from trauma and promote prosocial behavior and self-awareness.”
“The students in our classrooms are 3-5 years of age. The classrooms consist of typically developing students and students who have unique learning needs. Our project will provide multi-modal opportunities for students to engage in social and emotional learning. Our students will experience difference cultures and discover how we are all alike and different and begin to learn about their emotions, appropriate reactions to their emotions, empathy and understanding others’ points of view. We will read stories, create emotional costumes (red for mad, yellow for happy, etc.), role play, have drama time and use musical expression to demonstrate feelings.”
“Multicultural Academy of Scholarship (MAS) is seeking to develop and sustain their Peer Council, which they began last school year. This body uses restorative justice practices to address student behavior needs. In lieu of traditional forms of discipline, under this model, students consult with a peer who has violated the code of conduct, and through a conference, they reveal the root causes of the misbehavior, identify the damage done by the actions and generate an agreement to repair the relationship. The school will expand training and support for students and staff to specifically focus upon trauma sensitivity as current resources are inadequate.”
“Thanks to the support of the Social and Emotional Learning Innovation Fund, Thrive Public Schools will take our current social and emotional learning work to the next level by implementing Council practices in each of our classrooms. These practices build students’ self-awareness and empathy through a regular exercise of listening and speaking from the heart. Thrive recognizes the need for our students to grow not only as individuals who manage their own needs, but as members of a community who are able to hear and respond to the needs of others in a healthy and affirming way.”
“Pupusas, Cassava Cakes and Falafel! 'Bridges through Bread' fosters community and cross-generational communication through cooking and conversation. Immigrant and refugee parents and elders will be the leaders and experts, teaching students and families how to cook international meals. Aided by interpreters, the cooks will teach about different dishes and customs from their countries of origin. Participants can replicate the delicious cuisine with the help of our community cookbook and cultural anthology, culminating projects compiled and created by newcomer ESOL students in the Albemarle County, Virginia Public Schools. Our program is a partnership between community organizations and students and families in the Albemarle County and the Charlottesville City Schools.”
“'Educators Leading the SEL Way' is a leadership capacity-building project that recognizes each campus as a community of diverse students, families and faculty. We know that SEL is not 'one size fits all.' To achieve authentic SEL implementation that is responsive to campus strengths and needs, an SEL Specialist will guide each campus’s SEL Steering Committee in a multi-day planning process. Emphasis will be placed on creating a vision and an action plan for SEL implementation, both informed by campus data and student input, with the ultimate goal of culturally responsive and relevant SEL implementation driven by teacher leaders.”
“Boston Public Schools’ History and Social Studies Department will create a comprehensive scope and sequence plan for Ethnic Studies electives centered around Boston-area ethnic communities, Latinx, African and Asian/Asian-American studies. Students enrolled in these courses will benefit from the greater cultural insight that comes from these classes and will be able to understand how the intersectionality of culture, race, family, environment and identity affect their lives. Processing these ideas is key for several groups like English Learners and LGBTQI+ students of color in our diverse communities. The work will be done in collaboration with teachers and selected students.”
“The Hammond High Cultural Proficiency Workshop is an innovative approach to providing professional development to students, staff and parents in order to develop a community that recognizes and embraces diversity in our school, and society as a whole. The workshop cultivates an inclusive environment where participants collaborate as equal and valued members of a community that is enriched by its diversity. As a result of the workshop, participants will be ambassadors of change by using workshop tools and insights to build our school's ability to meet the social and emotional needs of our community.”
“Through the proposed All Means All project, City Charter Schools will build on our codification of SEL outcomes, strengthening practices at each school site. We will operationalize our stated SEL outcomes and strengthen our practices in alignment with those outcomes. Each school has assessed our existing practices against the outcomes we are defining and has identified a need to address student socio-cultural context as it relates to social and emotional development. They have each devised a process for strengthening those outcomes and will leverage grant resources to implement identified initiatives.”
“The focus of our project is the infusion and integration of CASEL’s five social and emotional learning competencies into classroom instruction and routines so that all students are given an equitable opportunity to be in a classroom that ensures quality academic instruction, simultaneously fostering the social and emotional development of our students. We will achieve this task across multiple systems of support through the services of a social and emotional learning coach who will guide teachers to a common understanding of SEL and provide feedback regarding effective SEL practices. SEL teacher and student rubrics will be created to guide discussions and assess SEL growth. The SEL coach will also train student peer coaches who help support the development of SEL competencies with students needing more support and guidance.”
“Silverton School District is continuing multiple efforts to infuse SEL into our school culture. We are supporting a social and emotional leader to guide students, teachers and parents in SEL; we are creating school-sponsored family support circles for a targeted audience of English Language Learning families and families with children that have endured a significant number of adverse childhood experiences; and we are working to integrate restorative practices within our entire school community. SEL will be a major focus of professional development days as teachers will travel to other districts to see strong examples of SEL in action in different school settings.”
“'Psyched: A Mindset. A Purpose' is a multi-tiered teacher and student fellowship program that infuses culturally responsive social and emotional programs to strengthen the mind and body (mental and physical) of underserved student populations. The full year fellowship program will develop teachers and students as social and emotional learning (SEL) intelligent leaders through SEL coaching and leadership development. Fellows will co-create and implement school-based social and emotional learning and character development initiatives to improve school culture and climate. Through their culminating project, fellows will elevate to SEL Ambassadors, mentoring and addressing issues and challenges of the district’s most struggling communities.”
“The Clark County School District will continue cultivating partnerships with community-based organizations like the Smith Center for Performing Arts, the West Las Vegas Arts Center and the Southern Nevada Writing Project to foster the development of newcomer and immigrant students’ social and emotional skills and competencies through creative expressions. Students will engage in storytelling, visual arts and creative writing to increase their language proficiency, connect with others and gain knowledge about attitudes and behaviors that will help them be successful in their new lives.”
“The Hawaii SELA (Social Emotional Learning in Action) program focuses on the development of youth leadership and peer mentorship. The program is a collaboration between University Laboratory School, Castle High School and Kailua High School. It is an innovative approach to cultivating global citizenship in youth, through a student centered, experiential learning, youth-led program where students develop skills such as facilitation, communication, social action and leadership development. Students explore themes, drawing connections to current events, local issues, and their own lives – as native students, immigrants, first generation, refugees, and youth discovering their identities and place in the world.”
“Our project will build on last year’s efforts: Implementation of social and emotional learning strategies combined with culturally sophisticated curricula aimed at increasing the academic rigor and student achievement in our 10th- and 11th-grade ELA classes, which contain a large number of identified and unidentified English learners. We will use looping with our 11th-grade students from last year to gather additional data regarding the effectiveness of SEL practices on student achievement, which will facilitate expansion of our cultural curriculum redesign to the 12th grade; offer coaching to teachers; and continue our technology efforts by creating or expanding digital portfolios for sophomores and seniors.”