Process

Process

The process below will guide you through creating a districtwide vision, developing aligned SEL goals, conducting a needs and resource assessment, and drafting  implementation and evaluation plans. Use the Rubric to assess your current level of implementation.

1. Refine or develop a shared vision that establishes SEL as integral to education.

Many districts have an existing vision that can be refined to create clearer language around social and emotional learning. If you have an existing vision, determine whether you’ll adapt that visio…More

Many districts have an existing vision that can be refined to create clearer language around social and emotional learning. If you have an existing vision, determine whether you’ll adapt that vision or whether it’s time to develop a new vision. Consider:

  • Were all key stakeholders – including district and school staff, students, parents, and community members – involved in developing the vision?
  • Does this vision accurately capture most of the important ideas behind what stakeholders want the district to achieve?

If not, or if your district does not have an existing vision, you can use the Vision Planning Worksheet as a guide for developing a robust vision with input from key stakeholders.

If you’re leveraging your existing vision, review whether it reflects a robust definition of high-quality education, including academic, social and emotional learning. If your district has recently undergone district planning or school improvement, you may already have information you need to update your vision to more clearly reflect SEL. If not, pull together a committee that represents senior leadership, different departments (including SEL, academics, equity, etc.), school staff, students, families, and community members to review your existing vision and discuss:

  • What academic, social, and emotional competencies should students have to reach their full potential as caring, contributing, responsible, and knowledgeable friends, family members, coworkers, and citizens?
  • What do we want all schools in our district to feel like, sound like, and look like?
  • How should students be supported academically, socially and emotionally?
  • How can our vision better reflect these big ideas?

Use your responses to update your vision to reflect SEL as a core part of your district’s work. You may also want to review examples of how SEL is woven into other districts’ visions:

2. Communicate, revisit and update your vision.

Look for ways to share the new or updated vision with key audiences. Ideally, the superintendent/CEO, the board of education, and members of the district’s leadership team will spearhead communicat…More

Look for ways to share the new or updated vision with key audiences. Ideally, the superintendent/CEO, the board of education, and members of the district’s leadership team will spearhead communication of the district’s vision for SEL to multiple stakeholder groups. If possible, have a senior leader record a short video to announce the SEL vision to all district staff. (See more information in Key Activity: Communication).

For example, include the vision in:

  • Regular staff and faculty communications such as holiday messages, calendars, professional learning events, newsletters, and updates.
  • Newsletters and districtwide electronic communications to students, families, and community members.
  • Your district’s website, including videos or other introductory materials prepared by district leadership. This may also include employee internal sites, and social media pages and feeds.

When sharing a focus on social and emotional learning, you may also want to explain that an SEL plan is coming soon. You’ll also want to create and share a plan for reviewing your vision at least every other year to ensure it continues to reflect your district’s direction. As you engage in this review, also make time to take another look at how SEL is reflected in the vision and revise it as needed.

3. Prepare for SEL planning sessions by identifying participants, developing a timeline, and getting buy-in to the process from stakeholders.

As you begin to use the vision to develop a plan for SEL implementation, you’ll want to assemble a strong, enthusiastic team to lead the process. If you have not already established a full-time SEL…More

As you begin to use the vision to develop a plan for SEL implementation, you’ll want to assemble a strong, enthusiastic team to lead the process. If you have not already established a full-time SEL lead and department, you’ll want to create an SEL planning committee with members from across district roles. Here are some committee members you may want to include:

  • The superintendent
  • Department heads from academics, equity, etc.
  • Union representative(s)
  • Principal
  • Teacher leaders
  • Parent representative
  • Student representative
  • Out-of-school time partners
  • Community members

Alternately, consider leveraging any existing SEL-related committees, such as an MTSS workgroup or a strategic planning committee for long-term buy-in targeted to a wide variety of stakeholders.

We recommend creating a plan for social and emotional learning as part of your district’s strategic planning process. However, if a district strategic planning process is not imminent, you can follow the process outlined below.

As a committee or team, one of your first tasks is to establish a timeline for creating the plan. Depending on your district, you may wish to schedule:

  • A kickoff or orientation meeting to provide an overview of the process
  • Drafting sessions
  • Rounds of feedback with key stakeholders
  • Revisions
  • Final approval

4. Develop short- and long-term SEL goals aligned to your district’s vision.

Clarify how SEL implementation will support your district’s overall vision. Systemic SEL implementation is linked to many positive outcomes for students and schools, including improvements to clima…More

Clarify how SEL implementation will support your district’s overall vision. Systemic SEL implementation is linked to many positive outcomes for students and schools, including improvements to climate, relationships, adult social and emotional competencies, student social and emotional competencies, attendance, engagement, graduation, and academic achievements.

As a committee, you’ll want to establish how SEL implementation will impact learning environments and student outcomes. Beginning with your long-term goals, consider what progress you want to see in students’ social, emotional, and academic competencies and any other outcomes you’re hoping to see in 3-5 years. Then, consider what short-term outcomes in the next 1-2 years will put you on track to reach your long-term goals. We recommend setting 3-5 measurable outcome goals.

For example, your long-term goals may include:

  • Growth in students’ social and emotional competence (See CASEL’s SEL Assessment Guide)
  • Growth in students’ academic performance
  • Increase in attendance
  • Increase in teacher retention

To stay on track toward those goals, you may set short-term goals that include:

  • Improvement in high-quality SEL instruction (as measured by evidence-based program implementation assessments)
  • Decrease in student behavior incidents
  • Improvement in school climate (using metrics on school climate surveys or observational tools)

You may find it’s helpful to consider “SMARTIE” when drafting goals:

  • Specific—Does the goal clearly state what is to be accomplished?
  • Measurable—Does the goal refer to a measurable outcome?
  • Attainable—Does this goal seem reachable given where things are now?
  • Realistic/Relevant—Will attaining this goal make a difference in the quality of students’ lives?
  • Timely—Has a time frame been established for achieving this goal?
  • Inclusive – Does this goal invite traditionally excluded individuals to make decisions and contribute in a way that shares power?
  • Equitable – Does this goal include an element of fairness or justice that seeks to address systemic injustice, inequity, or oppression?

Reference: The Management Center

5. Assess your current level of implementation, needs and resources.

Before you dive into an implementation plan, it’s helpful to determine what’s already working well in your district and what still needs to be done to achieve your vision. You can review or take th…More

Before you dive into an implementation plan, it’s helpful to determine what’s already working well in your district and what still needs to be done to achieve your vision. You can review or take the full district implementation rubric at this point to get an overall assessment of your current level of implementation. This can be especially helpful if you’ve already been working on SEL implementation in your district and want to identify how best to deepen and scale implementation systemically. If you’re new to implementation, you may want to take this rubric in sections, completing the items in each focus area as your work through those activities.

You may also want to conduct an assessment of what’s going on in schools. This may be a good idea if SEL implementation will be the result of decentralized decision-making, or if you already know the SEL resources and needs in your district’s central office. Here is an example of an SEL and school climate program inventory from Sacramento City Unified School District. They collected this data using these interview protocols:

Washoe County School District conducted a districtwide SEL needs assessment that drew on counselor focus groups, student SEL skills assessments, school climate surveys, and behavior-related data.

The CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL includes tools to collect data and track progress, including a rubric and a walkthrough protocol to look for indicators of high quality SEL implementation.

Note that reviewing your needs and resources is not a one-time process. You’ll want to conduct repeated assessments to help you track growth in SEL capacity over time and identify gaps that persist. You may not be able to assess your entire district initially. If so, it may make sense to start with a smaller scope and do additional rounds of assessment later on. If needed, plan a second round of assessment to include additional sites or sources.

6. Develop a logic model for SEL implementation.

Your strategic plan is intended to move your district from its current state (which you clarified during the needs and resources assessment) to where you want to be (your goals). It’s helpful to be…More

Your strategic plan is intended to move your district from its current state (which you clarified during the needs and resources assessment) to where you want to be (your goals). It’s helpful to begin your strategic plan with a logic model to create a clear connection between your implementation strategies and your ultimate goals.

Here is a template that can help you create a logic model and an example of a completed logic model. You’ll begin on the right side of this logic model and move backward:

  • Begin by filling in your long-term and short-term outcomes (these are your goals from Step 4).
  • Now, move to the left of the outcomes, and determine what outputs you’ll need to see in order to reach your outcomes. As a committee, discuss: What do we need to see, hear, feel in schools and across the district in order to reach these outcomes? What deliverables do we expect from SEL implementation in order to reach these outcomes? Outputs represent the change that your district will make in service of its goals. You may want to begin by reviewing the Indicators of Districtwide SEL. For example, your outputs may include:
    • Number of schools implementing high-quality SEL programming
    • Evidence of teachers using SEL standards
    • Number of staff across the district attending high-quality SEL professional learning
    • Evidence of student voice integrated into district planning
    • Other evidence of high-quality districtwide SEL implementation
  • Now you’re ready to begin identifying what implementation activities your district will need to engage in to achieve the outputs and outcomes you’ve set (see steps 7 and 8 below). CASEL’s District Framework, which is also the organizing structure of this District Resource Center, identifies key 16 activities that are integral to districtwide systemic SEL implementation and that would ideally be fully addressed in your long-term plan.
  • Finally, determine what inputs are needed to accomplish your activities. This may include staffing, curriculum, programs, funding, and other resources that will ensure successful implementation. See Key Activity: Aligned Resources for additional guidance.

7. Develop a long-term strategic plan for SEL rollout.

SEL rollout is a long-term process that can often take up to 5 or more years to scale across a district. You’ll want to develop a phased strategy for rolling out SEL to all schools. Depending on th…More

SEL rollout is a long-term process that can often take up to 5 or more years to scale across a district. You’ll want to develop a phased strategy for rolling out SEL to all schools. Depending on their needs and sizes, districts have chosen a variety of approaches. For example, some start with clusters of K-12 schools (high school and “feeder” middle and elementary schools), while others roll out districtwide at specific grade levels.

You may already have many schools that are implementing some level of SEL programming or practices, and will want to build on the existing work across your district. You can use your needs and resources assessment as a starting point to help determine what short- and long-term activities will best move your district forward. This Multi-year SEL Planning Template helps you identify activities that build off your existing needs and resources. See an example of a completed template: Sample Multi-Year Plan.

Once the long-term plan is drafted, you’ll want to provide key stakeholders the opportunity to review the plan and provide feedback. Some stakeholders to include are teacher leaders, experienced principals, parent and student leaders, out-of-school time intermediaries and providers, and communications specialists. After you’ve collected this feedback, revise as needed, and finalize and communicate the plan publicly. Here are a few ways your district can get the message out:

  • Consider doing a group presentation about the plan to engage key stakeholders who were not involved in its development. Brainstorm about how the plan might address challenges in their schools, as well as how the SEL lead or team can collaborate with them to support students’ social and emotional development.
  • Integrate the plan into your district’s web presence, including videos or other introductory materials prepared by district leadership. This may include your public website, employee intranet, and social media pages and feeds.
  • Revisit the planning timeline regularly and publicize progress toward the goals and timeline in the plan.

Here are some examples of how districts have planned and shared their long-term rollout:

8. Develop a one-year action plan for SEL implementation.

Regardless of what strategy you use, implementation needs to get down to the school level where the students are — and where relationships are formed, the curriculum is taught, and partnerships wit…More

Regardless of what strategy you use, implementation needs to get down to the school level where the students are — and where relationships are formed, the curriculum is taught, and partnerships with families and community happen. To ensure effective rollout, you’ll need to develop a detailed action plan each year for ongoing professional learning, as well as resources and staff who can provide on-the-ground coaching and support.

Your plan will detail the specific action steps you’ll take to accomplish the activities in your logic model.  CASEL’s four focus areas and sixteen key activities guide districts through the process of implementing systematic SEL, and you may want to take time to review each key activity in the District Framework to get a better understanding of field-tested and research-informed strategies.

To draft your plan, you can use your district’s existing planning process and templates or CASEL’s Action Planning Workbook:

  • Review and record your baseline implementation rubric scores (see Step 5) and the one-year outputs and goals you outlined in your logic model (See Step 6). Using the CASEL district framework, choose five to seven key activities that you’ll focus on this year. Select activities that reflect your district’s current level of implementation and will best help you move toward your intended outputs and goals for this year.
  • For each activity you select, use the rubric to determine what successful implementation will look like for your district at the end of the year, and set implementation goals. For example, a district that has begun drafting SEL standards (a rubric rating of “2” for Adopt and implement PreK-12 SEL standards or guidelines), may decide that by the end of the year, they will have received feedback on drafted standards, aligned the SEL standards to their academic standards, and developed a communication and professional learning plan around the standards (a rubric rating of “3”).
  • Plan action steps for each of your selected key activities. You’ll want to specify who “owns” each action step that needs to be taken to promote role clarity and accountability.
  • Set mid-year milestones for each activity to track your progress toward outputs and outcome goals. Strong milestone metrics are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound [See: The Management Center].
  • You’ll want to review your action plan and metrics at every SEL team meeting throughout the year to make sure you’re on track (see Focus Area 4: Practice Continuous Improvement for guidance) and course correct when needed.

9. Develop an aligned evaluation plan.

As you’re developing your implementation plan, it’s critically important to ensure you have an aligned plan for evaluating whether your implementation is driving toward intended outcomes. This plan…More

As you’re developing your implementation plan, it’s critically important to ensure you have an aligned plan for evaluating whether your implementation is driving toward intended outcomes. This plan will help drive continuous improvement in SEL strategies and ensure that stakeholders understand the role that SEL plays in achieving districtwide priorities and goals.

We recommend working with your district’s research and evaluation staff, or if district capacity is limited, identifying an external evaluation partner who has expertise in measuring SEL outcomes. This plan will articulate how to measure your short- and long-term SEL goals, including the timeline for collecting, analyzing and reporting data. It will also help you to collect and document data that demonstrates SEL’s role in district priorities and goals.

Here are some examples of documenting the impact of SEL implementation:

Here are some resources to support you in finding and using measures of students’ SEL competencies, school climate, and other kinds of SEL-related assessments:

  • SEL Assessment Guide: Spearheaded by CASEL, the SEL Assessment Work Group (AWG) created an online tool that offers guidance to educators on how to choose and use assessments of students’ SEL competencies, specifically interpersonal and intrapersonal knowledge, skills, attitudes, and mindsets. The SEL Assessment Guide focuses on measures currently used in practice and will expand over time as more are nominated.
  • Are You Ready to Assess Social and Emotional Development?: Including a brief, decision tree, and an index of available SEL assessments, this suite of tools from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) was published in December of 2015 and was intended to help education leaders, practitioners, and policymakers decide whether and how to assess social and emotional development.
  • School Climate Survey Compendia: The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) – from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) – maintains a compendium of valid and reliable surveys, assessments, and scales of school climate that can assist educators in their efforts to identify and assess their conditions for learning.

In addition to your long-term evaluation plan, you’ll want to ensure ongoing continuous improvement processes that allow you to track progress throughout all of the implementation. See Focus Area 4: Practice Continuous Improvement for additional information.

Using data from your benchmark assessments and any ongoing SEL needs and resource assessments, revise your plan, or aspects of your plan, to further refine the path to your district’s shared vision for SEL.

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