Using indicators to monitor progress
There are many things in school that are easy to quantify. Attendance. Days remaining in the school year. Number of students in your classroom, school or district.
SEL is often harder to quantify. How do you measure how students feel? Do staff feel more or less connected to each other after a meeting? Does a mentorship program help school morale? There isn’t one easy measure for any of these questions.
There are, however, good indicators that can help you know if you’re on the right track. This Playbook is designed to provide you with a roadmap so you can see where you need to go and so that you’ll have what you need when you get there.
We’ll talk you through questions to consider as you set your “North Star.” We’ve suggested a Progress Monitoring Cycle below as a way to stay on track and adjust if needed. We also know that buy-in, whether individually, with colleagues, or with students and the community, is essential. We strive to make sure that everyone feels like they belong in the room and as part of the SEL. To help with this, we’ve suggested a few ideas to support buy-in with your SEL offerings. Read on!
Set Your North Star
Why do you do SEL? What motivates you to work with and for students every day? How is SEL part of your daily practice–for yourself, your students, and your community? How does equity factor in? Having answers to these questions has helped us when challenges came up or when we felt like we weren’t
having the impact we’d hoped to have. Setting a “North Star” allows us to course-correct when we’ve gone astray and gives us key goals to work towards. It also helps us consider equity in the work.
We do our SEL work with an explicit focus on equity. Our SEL is not “white supremacy with a hug,” as Dr. Dena Simmons has phrased it. We make sure our practices specifically serve students who are farthest from opportunity, including students of color, students with disabilities, students who are in the foster system or are living homeless, and students who are refugees and/or multilingual learners. When this work makes a difference in the lives of those students, we know we’re on the right track.
We found that centering equity in SEL requires intentional shifts to focus on system design and individual student well- being
From Heeding the Call for Change, page 7
Here are some resources that may help inform your SEL journey.
Heeding the Call for Change: Centering Equity in Social & Emotional Learning
This publication explores the different ways educators and school systems are centering equity in SEL
Integrating a Focus on Equity into Social and Emotional Learning
This resource helps educators ground SEL with a focus on equity.
SEL as a Lever for Equity and Excellence
This website from CASEL offers tools for districts working to advance equity and excellence by cultivating adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create more inclusive school communities.
Why SEL Alone Isn’t Enough
This article from ASCD by Dr. Dena Simmons gives concrete examples and next steps so that SEL does not become “white supremacy with a hug.”
Generating Buy-in and Community Co-Creation
How can we create SEL in our communities that respects and honors where everyone is in the process and the wealth of experience they bring? Some students, colleagues, and families are just beginning their SEL journeys, while some have been doing this work for years. How can we consider buy-in and co-creation in our SEL planning?
Buy-in and co-creation are not the same. With buy-in, sometimes the work has started, and we’re trying to bring people in where we are. Or new staff members join, and we want to include them in the work. While it can be challenging to bring people in while the work is underway, it is always helpful to have more motivated adults and students to move the work forward. Do your best to ask questions, be open to new ideas, and let the growing and changing team be a source of inspiration.
With co-creation, we identify as many key partners in the work from the beginning, and we create our SEL programs or activities with them. That could look like students helping to identify a need for classroom “peace corners,” and working with teachers to decide what will be in those spaces and how the class will use them. Or it could look like a mentorship program where mentors and mentees co-design the arc of the year’s activities.
More helpful Resources
Here are a few more resources to help:
Edutopia: “Creating Buy-In for SEL at Your School”
This article shares seven tips to help get colleagues on board with SEL.
Move this World: Eight Strategies to Generate Buy-In
This blog post shares strategies to help get fellow educators on-board with SEL practices.
Schools Face Fears of ‘Critical Race Theory’ as they Scale Up Social and Emotional Learning
This article in Education Week examines some of the political questions around SEL.
Generating Buy-in and Community Co-Creation
Is your SEL having the impact you expect? Let’s find out! We suggest a 6 step process, along with guiding questions, as you consider assessing your SEL work:
- What are your goals?
- Who else is working on something similar?
- Who else has a stake in the success of these goals? Have they had a chance to give input?
- How will you collect data – quantitative and/or qualitative — for our SEL work?
- What are the pros and cons of a survey? A focus group? Something else?
- Whose voices are you collecting in this data? Whose voices are you leaving out?
- What does success look like?
- What does success feel like?
- Who will celebrate the success? Who might be disappointed?
- Who is helping you analyze data?
- Why is it important to collaborate on analyzing data?
- What data is important to collect every month? Every quarter? Every year?
- What was successful?
- What was challenging?
- What felt connecting and engaging?
- What felt disappointing or frustrating?
- Who would benefit from hearing how things went?
- Whose voices do we need to showcase as part of our results? Whose voices are left out?
- Who has a stake in the next chapter of the work?
Then repeat! We do this process at varying cadences: sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly, sometimes on trimesters or semesters. Repeat the progress monitoring cycle at the frequency that makes the most sense for your SEL work.