Equity Considerations for SEL Implementation

Equity Considerations for SEL Implementation

When leveraged for educational equity and excellence, districtwide SEL implementation has the potential to help foster inclusive learning environments and address longstanding disparities in student opportunities and outcomes.

When SEL implementation is centered around equity and excellence, it can be a key strategy for promoting understanding, examining biases, reflecting on and address the impact of racism, building cross-cultural relationships, and cultivating adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create more inclusive school communities. This requires districts to pay close attention to the roles of race, oppression, and privilege, and situate SEL within larger community and historical contexts. With this lens, SEL can be used to intentionally drive systemic change, uplift marginalized voices, and promote belonging and equity.

Below are considerations for approaching the implementation of each focus area in the CASEL District Framework with equity at the core of your work:

Focus Area 1 – Build Foundational Support and Plan

Focus Area 2 – Strengthening Adult SEL

  • Does our district guide educators to use SEL to promote the cultural assets that all students bring to their classrooms?
  • Do district leaders understand and promote SEL as a lever for equity?
  • Does our district affirm staff’s cultural heritage and their ethnic-racial identities?
  • Do we have a strategy for strengthening adult social and emotional competencies in a way that allows our staff to address inequities?
  • Do we have a strategy for strengthening adult cultural competence and developing practices that affirm the cultures, values, and identities of students from diverse backgrounds?
  • Do we provide supports necessary for educators to recognize and assess the impact of their own beliefs, perspectives, and biases?
  • Do we support educators in using SEL to more effectively interact with and facilitate the growth of students from diverse backgrounds?

Focus Area 3 – Promoting SEL for Students:

  • Does our district affirm students’ cultural heritage and their racial-ethnic identities?
  • Are our SEL programs culturally responsive to the needs of our community?
  • Do all students feel like their needs are met and that they have opportunities for success in our schools and district?
  • Do discipline policies and practices promote SEL, and are they applied equitably across all student racial and ethnic groups?
  • Have we created a districtwide expectation that academic concepts and skills should connect to students’ cultural assets, such as designing history lessons that resonate with students’ backgrounds?
  • Do we facilitate student reflection on their own lives and society, and support student cultural competence by facilitating learning about their own and other cultures?
  • Do students, family members, and community partners believe that our schools and district value their voices and perspectives, embrace their languages and cultures, treat them respectfully and fairly, and reflect their personal and cultural values?

Focus Area 4 – Practice Continuous Improvement:

  • Do we engage in strengths-based SEL assessments and avoid using deficit lens when framing student behaviors and skills?
  • Can students demonstrate their social and emotional group through many different types of opportunities?
  • Have we developed data strategies that allow for issues of equity to be studied and acted upon, including examining how students and families perceive school climate and relationships?
  • Have we addressed racial disparities in discipline and ensured discipline policies align with SEL practices?
  • Have we engaged students regularly in informing problems of practice that shape a districtwide data agenda?
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