Priority Setting: Focus Area 1

Build Foundational Support and Plan

Shared Vision and Plan

Has your district developed an SEL vision?

Does your district have a strategic plan for SEL implementation based on an assessment of needs and resources?


Why is a shared vision and implementation plan for SEL important?

A shared vision and plan help your district communicate the benefits of SEL and how SEL will grow within your district.  The shared vision ensures that everyone involved understands your district’s commitment to SEL, and the plan provides concrete steps to ensure that your district can follow through on that commitment.


Has your district communicated SEL as a priority to all stakeholders?


Why is an SEL communication plan important?

Clear, ongoing communication about SEL is a key strategy for successful implementation.  It helps stakeholders understand what SEL is, increases awareness of the research and findings about the benefits of SEL, promotes SEL in classrooms and schools, and makes the case for investing in SEL.


Does your district promote collaboration among school and district leaders around SEL, academics, and equity?


Why is it important to promote collaboration around SEL, academics, and equity?

SEL is a powerful lever for advancing deep academic learning and educational equity.  When school and district leaders align their efforts around SEL, academics, and equity they can have a greater impact in advancing life opportunities and outcomes for all students.

Aligned Resources

Has your district developed a long-term plan to fund and staff ongoing SEL implementation?

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Next up: Focus Area: Strengthen Adult SEL Competencies and Capacity

Why is it important to align resources to support SEL?

Dedicated, long-term funding and staff to support implementation are key for sustaining SEL initiatives, and send a strong message to teachers, parents, district and community leaders, and other stakeholders that SEL is a priority.

Central Office Expertise

Are central office staff knowledgeable about SEL, its benefits, and implementation strategies?


Why is it important to strengthen central office SEL expertise?

When leaders in the central office understand the practices and benefits of SEL, they are able to promote and sustain systemic SEL implementation by advocating and budgeting for SEL, identifying specific opportunities within their departments for SEL integration, and making SEL-informed decisions about how best to support schools and students.

SEL Professional Learning

Does the district offer effective, ongoing professional learning opportunities to support SEL implementation?


Why is an SEL professional learning program important?

Through effective professional learning, you can ensure that educators and staff in your district understand what SEL is, how building adult and student SEL competence supports critical long-term outcomes for students, and what strategies they can implement in their work toward this goal.

Adult SEL and Cultural Competence

Do central office staff have frequent opportunities to collaboratively learn, model, and practice adult SEL competencies at work?


Why is adult social, emotional, and cultural competence important?

Adults who have strong social and emotional skills build trusting relationships, exhibit patience and empathy, collaborate productively with colleagues, model skills for students, and positively contribute to the overall organizational climate. Cultural competence helps educators create supportive, equitable learning environments and forge meaningful partnerships with families and communities through a stronger appreciation of diverse cultures and values.

Staff Trust, Community and Efficacy

Is the district using an intentional strategy for developing trust, community, and a sense of collective efficacy among staff?

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Next up: Focus Area: Promote SEL for Students

Why is it important to build trust, community and collective efficacy among staff?

When staff have trusting relationships with their colleagues and feel a sense of community and shared purpose, they can work more collaboratively and effectively to support systemic SEL implementation.

SEL Standards

Has the district adopted SEL standards or benchmarks for PreK-12th grades?


Why are SEL learning standards important?

SEL standards or guidelines help to establish developmentally-appropriate and culturally-responsive benchmarks for SEL and send the message that SEL is a core part of every students’ education.

Evidence-Based Programs and Practices

Has the district adopted evidence-based SEL programming at all grade levels?


Why is it important to adopt evidence-based SEL programs?

Evidence-based SEL programs have been scientifically evaluated and shown to produce positive student outcomes including stronger academic performance, improved behavior and motivation, and reduced emotional distress.  The implementation of evidence-based programs is key to providing consistent, high-quality SEL opportunities for all students.

Family and Community Partnerships

Has the district established two-way communication with families that provide opportunities for meaningful collaboration around SEL efforts?

Has the district aligned SEL efforts with community partners?


Why is it important to develop and strengthen family and community partnerships?

The social and emotional learning that takes place during the school day is reinforced and sustained when districts, families, and community partners align and work together toward social and emotional learning goals.  District and school staff can better reach and support students when they learn about the experiences, perspectives, values, and assets of the communities they serve.


Has the district integrated SEL into academic frameworks and other key priorities?

Has the district integrated SEL into a continuum of student supports (such as MTSS) and aligned discipline policies with SEL?

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Next up: Focus Area: Practice Continuous Improvement

Why is it important to integrate SEL with academics, district priorities, and policy?

The systemic integration of SEL ensures that it will come to be seen as a vital component of what makes the district, schools, and students successful.  SEL must be integrated into the key objectives of a school district if it is to reach all schools and be sustained, and student must see SEL as relevant in all learning contexts in order to apply social and emotional skills in their daily lives.

Planning for Improvement

Has the district developed a plan for evaluating and continuously improving SEL implementation?


Why is it important to plan for continuous improvement?

When districts plan for continuous improvement, they help ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of SEL implementation. Well-planned continuous improvement approaches provide structured opportunities for schools and districts to learn from both their successes and challenges, adapting their approach along the way and adjusting strategies as the needs of their stakeholders evolve.

Documenting Implementation

Is the district consistently documenting the progress of SEL implementation and making this data readily available to district and school teams?


Why is it important to document implementation and outcomes?

When a district documents how a plan is being implemented and the successes and challenges they encounter, they have a richer source of data that helps them to interpret outcomes and adjust plans.

Data Reporting and Reflecting

Is the district regularly reporting and reflecting on data about student perceptions and equitable outcomes by student groups?


Why is it important to report and reflect on implementation and outcome data?

When districts share data that shows students’ views, strengths, and needs and highlights disparities between prioritized student groups, district, and school staff and the larger community are able to explore and address root causes to drive stronger, more equitable outcomes.

Action Plan and Sharing

Does the district summarize and share findings with key stakeholders about progress and next steps?

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Next up: Your Results

Why is it important to develop and share a data-informed action plan?

This key step in the cycle of continuous improvement is what enables a district to learn from experience and take action to address implementation challenges and make progress toward desired outcomes.  By communicating action plans to key stakeholders, districts show that they are responsive to their input and committed to sustaining SEL as a district priority.
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