Process

Process

This process will support districts in offering meaningful opportunities for families to participate and collaborate in SEL activities, aligning language and practices with SEL-related community partners, and gathering input and data to improve partnership strategies. Use the Rubric to assess your current level of implementation.

Below you’ll find steps for developing and strengthening Family Partnerships and Community Partnerships. (Jump to Community Partnerships).

Family Partnerships

1. Review data on the district’s current level of family engagement.

All schools have practices in place that guide how they communicate and interact with students’ families.  To improve the quality and impact of these practices and ensure that families are engaged …More

All schools have practices in place that guide how they communicate and interact with students’ families.  To improve the quality and impact of these practices and ensure that families are engaged as genuine partners, districts must first determine which families are most and least engaged with their schools, and identify the mechanisms that strengthen or form a barrier to that engagement.

For example, a district team could review data to determine which schools have the strongest parent satisfaction and interview school leaders to learn what they have done.  Data can also reveal where parent satisfaction is weak or which student populations would most benefit from a stronger sense of school connectedness. From there, districts can organize outreach, potentially with the support of a well-connected community partner, to learn more about why families may be less likely to be satisfied and involved with their school.

2. Develop strategies for ongoing two-way communication and engage families in district-level SEL planning.

Districts may begin a family communication strategy by providing regular, consistent messaging around SEL that keeps parents and caregivers informed about SEL plans and programming and promotes awa…More

Districts may begin a family communication strategy by providing regular, consistent messaging around SEL that keeps parents and caregivers informed about SEL plans and programming and promotes awareness of the connections between parenting and social and emotional learning.  But two-way communication means going beyond sending information out to parents through district newsletters and emails, to actively listening and responding to the inputs, ideas, and needs of families. This is most likely to happen when district staff takes the time to learn more about the families they serve and use strategies to create personal connections.

You may want to engage diverse parent focus groups and recruit diverse parent representatives for committees when making districtwide decisions about SEL curricula or approaches, developing policy about SEL standards or guidelines, or preparing training or materials for family partnership.  Families are the primary source for information about their children and what makes a school feel welcoming and supportive. Ensure that your district hears from all kinds of families, not just parents who regularly advocate for their children and volunteer, by holding events at a variety of times and in a variety of community spaces and by working with community partners to reach less engaged or more marginalized families.

3. Create expectations for family engagement at the school level and align resources to support it.

With family input, set high standards for what a family-friendly school should look like. It is not enough to simply share these standards with schools—districts must allocate funds and personnel t…More

With family input, set high standards for what a family-friendly school should look like. It is not enough to simply share these standards with schools—districts must allocate funds and personnel to ensure that all schools can and will meet them.

Ideally, a district will designate a high-level leadership position to focus on family and community engagement with a team of full-time staff with the capacity to provide technical assistance to all schools. This team can ensure that a high-quality, user-friendly website and two-way communication structures are in place and well-known to families.  Another option is to fund the creation of school-level positions devoted to outreach and engagement, and provide professional learning, technical support, and accountability structures centrally.

4. Provide support for schools to go beyond the stage of “inviting families in” to meaningful opportunities for families to participate and collaborate in SEL activities.

District-level staff can support schools to progress through the following stages of family partnership:

  • Build relationships and trust with all families through “customer service” trai…More

District-level staff can support schools to progress through the following stages of family partnership:

  • Build relationships and trust with all families through “customer service” training for staff, honoring family contributions, conducting home visits, and welcoming families to visit and observe or simply to interact with staff in informal settings.
  • Assess family satisfaction and engagement data to examine inequity based on race, class, language, or culture and build an aligned action plan for stronger outreach and inclusive practices to bridge gaps.
  • Revisit family communication structures to ensure that two-way communication is easy and accessible for all families (use multiple modes of communication for outreach, enlist support of parent organizers, hold community forums in a variety of locations and times, etc.).
  • Examine whether parent engagement events and strategies position parents as partners or as receivers.  Schools that position parents as partners involve them in their child’s learning, encourage them to interpret information or research issues alongside school staff, give tools or knowledge to support their child, and ask for their views and suggestions.  Schools that view parents as partners seek parent input for major decisions, recruit parents as members in school leadership teams, are open to parents advocating for their children and set up simple processes to do so, and have a structure for responding and collaborative problem-solving when a concern is raised.

Resources for schools to self-assess level of welcome and partnership with families:

Resources to empower parents as SEL partners and leaders:

Additional resources for supporting schools in developing community partnerships for SEL can be found in the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL.

5. Monitor progress, recognize and highlight strong work, and annually reassess engagement of targeted student populations and perceptions of school climate of students and families.

Design structures that allow schools and the district to gather input from families about their preferences and needs, and regularly collect feedback about families’ experienc…More

Design structures that allow schools and the district to gather input from families about their preferences and needs, and regularly collect feedback about families’ experiences with their schools and the district.  Use these findings to inform family partnership strategies, and to learn more from schools that are experiencing success and spread best practices.

Community partnerships

 

1. Identify organizations or groups working with schools in your district that are or have potential to support students’ social and emotional development.

Consider both major district partners working with many schools as well as smaller community institutions that are contributing to the success of one or two schools.  This process could include com…More

Consider both major district partners working with many schools as well as smaller community institutions that are contributing to the success of one or two schools.  This process could include completing a scan of district contracts, surveying principals or counselors at schools with strong school climate data, or creating asset maps that include locations other than home and school where students and their families gather.  Some community partners may already include SEL as a core part of their mission. Others may have different primary objectives, but have incredible influence and value to students and will likely see intersections between SEL and their work.

You may to look for community partners that:

  • Provide SEL-related programming in schools, such as mentoring groups or student leadership activities.
  • Provide SEL-related professional development, coaching, or consultation to staff.
  • Provide SEL-related direct services to students and families either in the school or at a community-based setting.

Here are a few examples of key SEL focused partnerships in Austin ISD.

Sacramento City USD’s flyer shows common SEL goals between schools and Expanded Learning Programs.

This article and video features Oakland USD’s SEL partnership with police.

2. Work with community partners to align language and practices used to describe and promote SEL and ensure SEL is a priority during the school day and out-of-school time.

Begin by engaging leaders of identified community organizations to learn how they are already supporting SEL and discuss ways to align and contribute to the district’s approach to SEL.  Schools and…More

Begin by engaging leaders of identified community organizations to learn how they are already supporting SEL and discuss ways to align and contribute to the district’s approach to SEL.  Schools and their partners may have similar social and emotional learning goals for the youth they work with, but may be using different terms or practices to achieve those goals.  By comparing SEL frameworks, practices, and language, your district can learn what’s working well from partners who often are better attuned to local needs and community culture, and partners can learn how to better reinforce and build on the social and emotional learning that takes place during the school day.

For key SEL community partners, set up regular meetings (such as quarterly) to intentionally align language and practices; check in on how they’re working with schools, students and families; and strategize on how you can work together to ensure SEL is a priority during the school day and out-of-school time.

If you have many partners, you may want to set up a SEL community partner committee that meets regularly as a group to discuss strategies for aligning language and practices across organizations and the district. This is also a good way to ensure coordination and minimize duplicating efforts so that resources are efficiently allocated to ensure students and families have access to a broad range of SEL-related services.

AIR’s Beyond the Bell project provides resources for assessing and integrating SEL in OST programs.

The Partnership for Children & Youth shares Finding Common Ground: Connecting Social-Emotional Learning During and Beyond the School Day to support stronger alignment between in-school and expanded learning.

The Wallace Foundation’s Social and Emotional Learning in Out-of-School Time Settings provides guidelines for adapting leading SEL programs for OST settings.

3. Leverage and support partnerships to deepen districtwide SEL implementation.

Identify partnerships are the strongest levers for SEL, and support the work of those partners so that more students are impacted.

Districts can leverage community partnerships in many creat…More

Identify partnerships are the strongest levers for SEL, and support the work of those partners so that more students are impacted.

Districts can leverage community partnerships in many creative ways.  Here are some examples:

  • Include key partners in district-level advisory committees.
  • Offer districtwide or targeted training led or co-led by a community partner.
  • Organize resource fairs for school leaders to learn about available partners and how their work has been successful with similar schools.
  • Contract with strong partners to support SEL within districtwide programming such as summer school, re-engagement centers, or alternative schools.
  • Develop a robust menu of SEL-related community services that can be shared with schools, students, and families.
  • Collaborate on print resources or a website to share successful SEL practices
  • Make videos featuring successful partnerships between community organizations and individual schools.
  • Organize resource fairs for students’ families at well-attended district events.
  • Have community partners do outreach and help facilitate SEL-related parent leadership groups (e.g., organize a family discussion series,  train parent volunteers to use restorative practices during recess).

4. Provide training and resources for schools to go through a similar process of partner identification, alignment, and collaboration with their local partners.

A good place to start is with CASEL’s Guide to Schoolwide SEL or AIR’s More

A good place to start is with CASEL’s Guide to Schoolwide SEL or AIR’s In-School and Afterschool Social Emotional Learning Connection: A Planning Tool, which can be adapted for various types of partners.

Increase the probability that schools will engage with training and resources by including it as part of a series of sessions on school climate, highlighting existing partnerships, and planning tools in a recurring feature in a districtwide newsletter, or holding an opening session at a resource fair before school staff begin engaging with exhibitors.

Individuals schools should be encouraged to collaborate with staff from their closest partner organizations to better support students and their families; for example:

  • Collaborate to put on events to strengthen school connectedness and create a welcoming climate for families.
  • Allow the community organization to use school space to offer services and programs that support students and families.
  • Invite partners to be a member of a student support team or SEL leadership team.
  • Ask community partners to support with parent outreach, such as leading tours of the school, helping with translation, or designing a culturally responsive process for parents to advocate for their child.
  • Develop an ethical system for sharing helpful information about students, monitoring progress toward SEL goals, and gathering outcome data.

Additional resources for supporting schools in developing community partnerships for SEL can be found in the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL.

5. Gather data on the effectiveness of SEL-related partnerships, recognize schools and community partners for successful engagement work, and share their example with other district schools and the larger community.

Use data to determine which partnerships should be expanded and which should be phased out, or to pursue additional funding streams to support a deeper partnership.

More

Use data to determine which partnerships should be expanded and which should be phased out, or to pursue additional funding streams to support a deeper partnership.

download Back to Top