The 14 most innovative SEL districts, part 2

Here's a quick look at how districts are creating safe learning environments that empower students

11. McComb (MS) School District
Number of Students: 2657
Number of Schools: 6

McComb School District believes in putting the needs of their students first. The educational plan for upcoming years aims to implement personalized, student-centered teaching and learning. McComb’s Personalized Learning Model, Six Pillars of Student-Centered Learning, encourages students to take control of their own learning and highlights the importance of social emotional learning skills so students can become independent learners. The district is shifting attention to developmental growth as well as academic growth and believes social emotional learning can only be taught through reinforcing these skills throughout the school day. Programs, such as Move This World and The Leader In Me, have been selected to support teachers and students in social emotional skill development. Superintendent Dr. Ellis explains: “Without social emotional learning, we aren’t really personalizing learning.”

Learn more about McComb School District here.

12. Metro Nashville (TN) Public Schools
Number of Students: 86,000
Number of Schools: 168

Metro Nashville Public Schools began prioritizing social emotional learning in 2011, when they started their partnership with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The goal was to help them confront obstacles such as student discipline and stress. Since that time, MNPS has adopted evidence-based trauma-informed programs and the district is committed to implementing an integrated, multi-tiered system of support. Every school is using one or more approaches such as social emotional learning programs, restorative practices or positive behavioral interventions.

With teacher buy in being a challenge for many districts, MNPS created a “walkthrough rubric” to support implementation of social emotional learning practices.The rubric evaluates the school wide environment, classroom instruction, as well as classroom environment, management and discipline. Additionally, every school has access to Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) training in order to support teachers in communicating with all students in a trauma-informed manner, especially those who have experienced trauma. An integral part of building healthy relationships and addressing the wellness needs of MNPS staff and students is ritualized social emotional learning. Dr. Crnobori, MNPS Coordinator of Trauma-Informed Schools, reports, “Peace Corners and Move This World have been such an important element of our trauma-informed schools SEL work, helping to promote skill building and low stress school environments. SEL strategies such as these have increased teacher capacity to co-regulate students as needed, and teach students skills to self-regulate and build self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills.”

Learn more about MNPS’s social emotional learning initiatives here.

13. Austin (TX) Independent School District
Number of Students: 81,391
Number of Schools: 130

Austin Independent School District has been recognized as one of the first districts to incorporate social emotional learning and commit to the development of the whole child. Social emotional learning reached all schools in the districts during the 2015-2016 school year. As part of implementation, a district SEL specialist provides professional development, provides feedback, and supports the schools in developing their own SEL plans. Additionally, each school develops a steering committee and has a designated SEL facilitator who communicates with the SEL district department. The district also selected programming for schools to utilize. Each school year, districts are invited to apply to be apart of an SEL Seed Campus Cohort. Schools must outlines areas for growth and show progress in the following four categories: empowering campus leadership, coordination with family and community partners, coordination with climate and pedagogy, and explicit SEL instruction. Schools that demonstrate growth within these four areas are designated as SEL Model Campuses.

Learn more about AISD’s social emotional learning initiatives here.

14. Chicago (IL) Public Schools
Numbers of Students: 371, 382
Number of Schools: 646

Chicago Public School’s Office of Social Emotional Learning (OSEL) consists of thirty four staff members. OSEL’s mission is to provide physically and emotionally safe and supportive learning environments to students. In order to accomplish this, they have developed robust multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) that strive to meet the social and emotional needs of all students. In order to fully implement social emotional learning, every school was tasked with developing a plan to integrate social emotional learning skills across all subject areas, positive and collaborative relationships throughout the school community. CPS partners with the Collaborative of Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Through this partnership, they have been able to empower 269 schools to implement evidence-based SEL programs. They have also adopted a progressive disciplinary policy that limits the use of exclusionary discipline practices and instead encourages schools to respond to behavior incidents using restorative practices. As a result, there was an increase in average GPA, reading and math scores. Since 2012, out of school suspensions have declined 76 percent, attendance rates rose significantly and graduation rates have soared to 73.5 percent.

Learn more about CPS’s social emotional learning initiatives here.

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