Develop a Shared Vision and Plan for SEL

Develop a Shared Vision and Plan for SEL

The development of a shared vision and plan is a critical first step for SEL implementation that helps build commitment and coordinate efforts of all district stakeholders.

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 a shared vision and plan for SEL?


Together the shared vision and plan help your district communicate what you’re striving toward and how you intend to implement, grow, and evaluate SEL in your district. This serves as the critical foundation for all districtwide SEL implementation and includes the following components:

  • A districtwide vision and aligned long-term SEL goals that create an inspirational call to action and point all stakeholders in the right direction
  • A review of existing SEL-related initiatives and efforts that helps create an understanding of the district’s current strengths and gaps
  • Short-term goals that can be achieved within one school year to drive toward the overarching vision and long-term goals
  • A concrete one-year action plan for districtwide SEL implementation that moves you toward your goals
  • An aligned evaluation plan that helps your district track progress toward your goals and illuminate learnings that support continuous improvement of your SEL implementation efforts

A shared vision clarifies what you are striving toward and reflects what your district values as critical to students’ education. SEL implementation begins with ensuring that social and emotional learning is seen as integral to your district’s overall vision.

A strong shared vision:

Establishes SEL as essential to the district’s educational mission, aligns SEL to core district values and articulates shared language around SEL.

Is informed by and shared with all key stakeholders (e.g., students, district and school staff, families, and community partners).

Is revisited every two years, and updated as needed.

Is used to develop aligned SEL goals, including short- and long-term outcomes around equitable learning environments and students’ social, emotional, and academic progress.

Use the Rubric to assess your current progress toward a shared vision and aligned goals for SEL.

Your plan outlines how your district will achieve its short- and long-term SEL goals, which are in service of your district’s overall vision. This may include a public-facing strategic plan that communicates your district’s long-term commitment to stakeholders, as well as a more detailed action plan to guide your SEL team’s day-to-day operations.

A strong plan for SEL:

Is based on a review of existing SEL-related programs and practices already in place, as well as what needs to be addressed.

Is informed by and shared with relevant stakeholders, and articulates clear roles and responsibilities for both district-level and school staff.

Provides a phased SEL rollout strategy that gradually scales up SEL implementation to all schools, including strategies for promoting SEL for both students and adults.

Is connected to an aligned evaluation plan that articulates how expected short- and long-term outcomes will be measured, and ensures necessary data is available for continuous improvement and stakeholders are informed of progress and plans.

Use the Rubric to assess your planning process, including your needs and resources assessment, SEL implementation plan, and aligned evaluation plan.

Why does my district need a shared vision and plan?


When SEL is part of the district’s vision of high-quality education, it creates a shared understanding and commitment among staff, students, families and community partners. It also helps ensure that leadership will continue to prioritize SEL and support its spread to all schools.  The vision also becomes the basis for your district’s SEL-related goals, plans, allocation of resources, and continuous improvement efforts.

While the shared vision ensures that everyone involved understands your district’s commitment to SEL, your plan provides measurable goals and concrete action steps to ensure that your district can follow through on that commitment and ensure all stakeholders know what they need to do to support the vision and aligned SEL goals. Through your plan, you’ll be able to assess and align your human and financial resources, outline the necessary activities, set timelines, and assign responsibilities.

When should my district develop a shared vision and plan for SEL?


Your district may want to create a shared vision or revisit your district’s existing vision after introducing SEL to key stakeholders. This includes the superintendent, various leaders throughout the district office, board members, principals, families, community members, and out-of-school-time intermediaries and providers. The vision is established before goal-setting, planning and implementation.

After establishing a vision that clarifies why SEL is important to your district and developing both long-term and short-term SEL goals to align with the vision, your district can use the vision and goals to guide the development of a concrete plan. This plan helps guide all other implementation decisions, and should be established prior to adopting a formal SEL curriculum or engaging in significant or multisite implementation. As you’re developing an implementation plan, you’ll also want to develop an aligned evaluation plan, so that you establish from the beginning how you’ll measure progress and success.

Who needs to be involved?


Ideally, you’ll want to assemble a group of key stakeholders—such as the superintendent, other senior district leaders, board members, staff across district departments including those who regularly engage with schools, families and community members —to lead the development of a shared vision statement. You will also want to engage school staff, union representatives, students, families, and community partners to help shape the vision. Due to logistical or time constraints, some districts may need to work with a smaller group of representative leaders.

While many of the same people who create the vision may be involved in developing goals for SEL and a strategic plan, keep in mind that the planning process is normally longer than the visioning process and may include multiple phases with different stakeholders. The strategic planning process should include additional central office staff who are or will be focused on SEL implementation, a representative from the district’s research and evaluation department, and others who oversee school leadership or lead implementation of other key district initiatives. Your SEL team will need to be deeply involved in developing detailed action plans that guide your implementation activities.

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