This brief is part of a commissioned series that draws on Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, a resource that examines 25 widely-used SEL programs, providing comprehensive information and cross-program analyses about the various in-school and out-of-school-time programs currently available in the United States.
School-based programming aimed at building competencies in social and emotional learning (SEL) has been shown to have positive outcomes for kids in pre-school and beyond. But even high-quality, evidence-based programs can falter if they are not implemented effectively. Moreover, as the authors of this brief note, poorly implemented SEL programs could possibly have negative effects on staff morale and student engagement.
Proficient implementation is so vital to achieving desired outcomes, the brief notes, that practitioners seeking to run SEL programs should undertake a careful planning process to select programs and strategies that meet the needs of their school or a target subgroup of students. The brief, based on a content analysis of 25 top SEL programs by researcher Stephanie Jones and her team at Harvard’s EASEL Lab, offers help in the planning process.
The brief begins by outlining the common components of SEL programs—climate and culture supports, adaptability to local context, family engagement, etc.—and then mapping them to SEL best practices and to six recommendations for effective implementation. The recommendations are:
- Allot the time required to implement the program sufficiently and effectively.
- Extend SEL beyond the classroom.
- Apply SEL strategies and skills in real-time.
- Ensure sufficient staff support and training.
- Facilitate program ownership and buy-in.
- Use data to inform decision-making.
Once practitioners have reviewed the common features of programs and recommendations for implementation, they can use the primary report,
Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, to delve into more detail on specific programs. The primary report also provides worksheets to help guide the program selection process.