CASEL Water Cooler

Highlights From The First National SEL Week

March 20, 2023

With so much to celebrate in the field of social and emotional learning (SEL) this year, SEL Day grew into the biggest annual celebration of SEL yet: National SEL Week. 

March 6-10, thousands of parents, young people, policymakers, and educators from across the country united in support of SEL. From classrooms and homes all the way to the White House, we uplifted hearts, connected minds, and spread the word about SEL.

Here are four highlights from the first ever National SEL Week.

National SEL Week by the Numbers

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  • 1 letter recognizing #SELday from President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden
  • 1 bipartisan resolution for National SEL Week introduced in the U.S. Senate 
  • 9 #SELday state proclamations, an increase from 2022 
  • More than 4,100 people representing 88 countries and all 50 U.S. states signed up for #SELDay activities
  • Participants committed to over 11,000 actions to showcase, promote, advocate, and support #SELday
  • Over 10 million views from over 5,000 mentions and 40,000 interactions with #SELday across social media, making #SELday trend on Twitter for several hours!

#SELSuperpowers Unite 

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Parents, educators, students, and celebrities shared their SEL “superpowers” through inspiring videos describing the SEL strengths in themselves, their schools, and their communities. The #SELSuperpowers Unite campaign on social media, launched by the Leading with SEL coalition, showcased stories from around the country. 

SEL champions highlighted superpowers like self-awareness and building relationships and shared how SEL shows up in their homes, schools, and communities.

Share your favorite SEL superpower video or create one of your own to keep the spirit of SEL Week going all year long!

SEL on Capitol Hill

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At an SEL Day briefing on Capitol Hill, parent, researcher, and educator voices came together to paint a clear picture of SEL and its benefits.

“I don’t need to tell you the state of our nation’s schools right now. We all know we need to do something. What I am here to share with you today is that there is robust and overwhelming contemporary evidence for the effectiveness of social and emotional learning to support all children to thrive.”Dr. Christina Cipriano, researcher

“SEL has been the path to cultivating schools with well-being at the center, schools with welcoming, safe, and inclusive learning environments. We want to send the message to students, ‘Who you are, as you are, is exactly the student we want to serve.’” – Angelyn Nichols, SEL Coordinator, Virginia Beach Public Schools

“SEL is brain science. These skills get the brain ready for learning and help wire the prefrontal cortex. It is a lifelong gift that you can give your students.”Pender Makin, Maine Department of Education Commissioner

“SEL deals with the child on a whole different level. That child feels wanted, supported, belonging, so that child wants to learn. It helped my son become a young man in high school. As a father, I believe in [SEL].”Dewand Moore, father of a high school student

“I can’t teach anything if I don’t get to the root of what the problem is. I used to think there was no need to teach SEL, until I was in the fire. And I realized that there are serious problems here: we have students who may not have electricity, who may not have groceries, who may be running the household. We must welcome our students with love and lower the barriers to learning.”William Haith, school principal

The momentum from the briefing continued into the evening of March 10, as the U.S. Senate introduced a bipartisan resolution from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). The two senators reached across the aisle to recognize the critical role SEL plays in supporting the academic success and overall well-being of students, educators, and families.You can continue spreading the word about SEL in your children’s school or in your community by downloading the free Leading with SEL Toolkit for SEL Champions.

Highlighting the Evidence for SEL

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In celebration of National SEL Week, SEL champions shared the latest research confirming decades of evidence on the benefits of SEL.

At the congressional briefing, Dr. Cipriano spotlighted her latest work, a meta-analysis of 424 universal school-based SEL studies impacting over 575,000 K-12 students. The studies consistently found that students who participate in SEL:

  • Have increased academic achievement, homework completion, attendance, and engagement in learning
  • Demonstrate decreased aggression and bullying
  • Have increased prosocial behaviors and civic attitudes and behaviors
  • Experience less anxiety, stress, depression, and suicidality
  • Feel safer at school and have better relationships with teachers and peers 

In addition to the research led by Dr. Cipriano, a 2022 review of meta-analyses of universal, school-based SEL programs involving an estimated one million students and a 2023 review of 12 meta-analyses of school-based programs both separately reached the same conclusion. SEL programs in schools significantly benefit students socially, emotionally, and academically.

In the words of Dr. Cipriano, “Is SEL effective? Does it improve academic achievement? Does it help kids feel safer? The answer is overwhelmingly yes.”

Thank you to The Bernard & Sandra Otterman Foundation and the Stuart Foundation for their generous support of this work.

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