Across the country, school and district leaders are asking lots of questions—from how we can foster connection as we return to school to how to intensify a spotlight on the impact of societal inequities on education. To my mind, social and emotional learning (SEL) is a key component of this work.

Related content: 6 actionable strategies to support classroom SEL

As an assistant director of SEL, I’ve seen first-hand its benefits. In Austin Independent School District (AISD), we invested in SEL implementation more than nine years ago. In this new school year, we’re drawing upon that foundation to support both students and adults during these challenging circumstances.

Start with adults so they can serve students

When we first started implementing SEL, we focused on kids. Later, we discovered we’d missed an important piece of the puzzle to support students: adult SEL. So when we were faced with the current challenges, we quickly realized we needed to recognize the impact on adults. We asked, “How do we take care of our adults so that they can take care of our kids?”

About the Author:

Caroline Chase, M.Ed. serves as Assistant Director of Social and Emotional Learning for the Austin Independent School District. Caroline taught high school English and Communication Skills for eight years, middle and high school students in residential treatment for two years, and middle school self-contained social behavioral skills for six years. She also served for five years as a Special Education Behavior Specialist. She was a founding member of the SEL Department in July, 2011, and serves as the team lead.


Add your opinion to the discussion.