Communicate SEL as a District Priority

Communicate SEL as a District Priority

Clear, ongoing communication helps build awareness, promotes SEL in classrooms and schools, and makes the case for investing in SEL.

Below you’ll find an overview of: WHAT high-quality implementation looks like, WHY it’s important, WHEN to engage in this key activity, and WHO to involve. Also see the PROCESS page for step-by-step guidance on how to engage in the work, and the RESOURCES page for additional tools to support your efforts.

What is an SEL communication plan?


An SEL communication plan provides an important roadmap for getting the word out about SEL, building enthusiasm and support, and informing key stakeholders about your plans and achievements with SEL implementation.

A strong communications plan:

Highlights the importance of SEL for all students and includes communication about rollout timelines and expectations for roles and responsibilities.

Includes consistent messaging about SEL tailored to key stakeholder groups in appropriate languages and formats.

Supports the superintendent and other district leaders in regularly communicating about the importance of SEL both formally and informally.

Use the Rubric to assess your communications plan.

In your communication plan, you’ll answer four key questions:

  • Who do you want to reach? (Your audience)
  • What do you want to achieve? (The goal)
  • What do you want to say? (The message)
  • How will you send your message? (The medium)

Your answers to these questions will guide what kinds of messages you’ll create, who you’ll send them to, and how you’ll deliver them.

Your communication plan can include many different kinds of messages targeting various audiences, including:

This template can help you organize and plan foundational learning experiences about SEL for different audiences.

Why does my district need to develop a communication plan?


Clear, ongoing communication is a key strategy in the successful implementation of SEL. By getting the message out to key audiences (such as district leaders, funders, staff and teachers, students, families, and community members), you’ll be able to:

  • Help these stakeholders understand what SEL is.
  • Increase awareness of the research and findings about the benefits of SEL.
  • Promote SEL in classrooms and schools.
  • Make the case for investing in SEL.

Sustained communication about your district’s implementation of SEL can help you:

Influence district leaders to promote and support systemic adoption of SEL principles and practices.

Engage teachers and staff to rally behind SEL initiatives and strive to incorporate SEL practices schoolwide.

Build enthusiasm in district students and families, and encourage them to adopt SEL practices in the home and community.

Convince funders to dedicate financial support to SEL implementation.

Failure to communicate about SEL with key audiences can:

  • Create confusion about SEL in our schools.
  • Lead community members to question the value of this work.
  • Lessen the commitment of educators, school leaders, and others.
  • Reduce the chances for sustainable funding.

When should my district develop a communication plan?


Develop your communication plan early in the planning for SEL implementation to help produce support and buy-in from internal stakeholders such as staff, teachers, and out-of-school time providers. You’ll also want to consider communicating with parents, family members, and the community about what SEL is and how they can support and benefit from SEL practices. We recommend developing your communication plan as part of your overall SEL action plan.

Once you’ve launched SEL in your district, you’ll want to maintain communication with stakeholders throughout the school year and update your communication plan as needed.

Who should be involved in developing your communication plan?


Your SEL lead should work with the planning committee that creates the SEL plan to consider what needs to be included in the communication plan. You will probably also want to include the communication lead or staff for your district to lend their expertise to the communication plan.

When implementing your plan, there are a range of other communication professionals you may wish to engage to help craft your messaging. Often these roles will be taken by existing staff, although depending on your district’s resources, you may wish to bring in additional staff or temporary assistance or outsource to a communication firm. Some useful roles to consider include:

  • Website manager: to manage updates to the district website, work with vendors, monitor traffic, and look for strategies to increase traffic and usage.
  • Media outreach leads: to pitch stories of interest to local media, guide staff in creating content for blogs and news sites, develop an organizational media outreach list, and create and distribute press releases.
  • Social media manager: to create and manage content for social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), schedule the publication of content, monitor engagement, and provide responses when needed.
  • Editorial lead: to lead content discussions, manage communications calendars and campaigns, and develop content as needed.
  • Designer: to provide visual guidance and direction for messaging, and procure images as needed.
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