Key Implementation Insights from the Collaborating Districts Initiative

A multiyear effort to help school districts integrate social and emotional learning across all aspects of their work

June 1, 2017
CASEL
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Summary

Through everything from strategic plans and budgets to hiring practices and professional development, districts create the conditions and policies for SEL to thrive in schools, classrooms, homes, and community organizations.What can districts do to implement SEL systemically in every aspect of their work? Is it possible to implement SEL effectively even in very large urban districts?

We started the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI) to answer these questions, starting with three districts in 2011 and growing to 10 districts (serving nearly 1 million students) in 2017. This report summarizes what we learned during those first seven years. Key findings from the initial work are:
  • Systemic SEL is possible even with leadership changes and relatively small budgets.
  • SEL ideally is integrated into every aspect of the district’s work, from the strategic plan and budgets to human resources and operations.
  • SEL ideally is integrated into every aspect of the school, from classroom instruction to school climate and culture to community-family partnerships.
  • Successful implementation can follow multiple pathways, based on each district’s unique needs and strengths. Regardless of the approach, the engagement and commitment of both school and district leadership is essential.
  • Adult SEL matters, too.
  • Data for continuous improvement are essential.
  • Districts benefit from collaborating with each other.

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