Advancing the Conversation: Challenges, Changes, and Contributions

By: Dale A. Blyth (


Our efforts here at the Measuring SEL website have been going on in one form or another for almost 2 and a half years now, and we hope you are finding our blogs, briefs, and and guides helpful in your daily work and enrich your conversations. We now have over 2600 members in our Collaborator Network who get weekly emails about the latest blog and related items and resources. In order to continue to Inform, Inspire, Engage, and Connect with all of you, today I want to say a little about challenges, changes, and contributions.



In the rapidly growing movement that SEL has become it is challenging to stay on top of what is happening in your corner of the world let alone what is happening more broadly in other fields and practices that relate to your work. These challenges grow and intensify as we move to the day-to-day practices of people working with children and youth where real implementation and improvement occurs.  In order to help support the members of the Collaborator Network and other visitors to the Measuring SEL website as well as to better understand and address these challenges we are planning a few changes and offering three ways for people to contribute.



In order to better utilize our weekly blog, we have decided to create some monthly threads to help us be more intentional about the topics we blog about and the perspectives we bring forth.  Moving forward, each month will feature an Assessment in Action blog that describes how people from around the country and around the world are putting assessment to work in their SEL efforts.  This monthly series is being led by Katie Buckley at Transforming Education.  You can view past entries to this series here and look for new ones every fourth Wednesday of the month.


The second series we will be initiating next month is Practitioner Perspectives which will feature blogs by members of our National Practitioner Advisory Group  (NPAG) whose bios can be found here.  This group of practitioners were selected from almost 200 applicants to provide perspectives on SEL practices in both school and community efforts from the classroom- and program-level to building, district, and state levels.  Our first blog will appear April 10th featuring Heather Hirsch from the Minnesota Department of Education. Blogs in this series will appear regularly on the second Wednesday of the month.  As co-chair of NPAG with Deborah Moroney from the American Institutes for Research (AIR), I will be inviting members to share their perspectives on the day-to-day challenges and successes they see in implementing and assessing SEL efforts.


The other blogs during the month will continue to feature bloggers from across the country and the world with various perspectives on related topics.


The other major change coming next month is the launch of a new twice-monthly update on what is going on in the field. These updates are compiled and created by Elizabeth Nolan at the American Institutes for Research, who partners with CASEL on this effort.  The series will contain short blurbs about reports, news, and other happenings in SEL and will initially be released as a blog but then become a separate series. Early readers will be subscribed to the series automatically but can unsubscribe at any time. We are doing this to help keep people informed of the many wonderful things happening in our growing field without sending more and more email announcements to the whole Collaborator Network.



One way a rapidly growing and diverse movement like SEL seeks to grow and improve is by creating channels for people to contribute to the field – whether by publishing articles, doing professional development, or designing and learning about new efforts. We hope the Measuring SEL Blog has already become a useful channel for you and that the new update series will as well.  But to create a strong and vibrant field, these and other efforts need people like you to contribute their perspectives, ideas, resources, and experiences – and to do so in ways that others can see and from which they can learn.  Here at Measuring SEL we wish to encourage you to contribute in one or more of three important ways:


  1. COMMENT — We encourage you as readers of our weekly blog to comment on what you are reading. While we work to provide interesting ideas for consideration, it is the dialogue between readers and with the authors that we think can take this to another level.  So, if you read a blog and find it either helpful or infuriating, please comment (constructively) either directly on the blog or via Twitter @MeasuringSEL. There is a link on every blog directly to Twitter as well as an easy way to send an email to colleagues informing them of the blog (the letter icon).


  1. WRITE A BLOG — We encourage you to consider doing a blog to tell us about your work and experiences or share your perspective.   Blogs are about 1000 words long and offer you an opportunity to express yourself and help others see your point of view.  A simple email to either myself ( or my colleague Teresa Borowski (  letting us know of your interest and ideas on topics is all it takes to get started.  Because we schedule blogs out for the entire year, you can say yes now and select a date that will work for your schedule.  We look forward to hearing from you.


  1. SHARE A RESOURCE — We encourage you to send in brief notes (50 word or less) about resources, reports, and tools that you found useful, just discovered, and have made a difference in your own work. We will compile these into the twice a month updates that will be available on the Measuring SEL website starting in April as noted above. These brief updates or even ideas for resources that should be noted can be sent to Elizabeth Nolan using this link.


If everyone reading this chose just one of these ways to contribute to the growing SEL movement, we can help make sure it is on solid ground informed by the rich diversity of efforts already underway. Thanks for what you do and for considering new ways to contribute moving forward.


QUESTION: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing SEL today?

Please respond using the comment box below or on Twitter @MeasuringSEL

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  1. SEL and Positive Youth Development components have solid research behind them to document their importance to any youth organization. However, grants, especially federal ones, require use of evidence based programs, often expensive and narrowly focused rather than a wider SEL curriculum based approach.

  2. Implementation of SEL is a challenge. Skills-Based health educators and physical educators teach SEL every day and can be valuable assets in a school-wide implementation plan. The elementary health specialist is trained to deliver skills-based health/SEL and also plays a vital role in implementation. Pairing SEL with health and physical education provides a powerful collaboration.

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