Roadmap to Reopen Schools

Guidance to aid school teams in supporting students and adults during the pandemic.

At the start of this unprecedented school year, schools faced the layered impact of schools closures, COVID-19, and racial inequities amplified by nationwide mobilization for racial justice. To aid in the transition, CASEL collaborated with more than 40 partners to illuminate a way forward through Reunite, Renew, Thrive: SEL Roadmap for Reopening School (July 2020), centered on relationships and built on the existing strengths of a school community.

Refocus on the SEL Roadmap Brief (Jan. 2021)

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As we enter the second half of the year, we offer three strategies adapted from the SEL Roadmap to re-examine efforts for a successful second semester. Download the Refocus on the SEL Roadmap: Actions for a Successful Second Semester.

  • Partner with staff, students, families, and communities to examine data from the first semester.
  • Refocus on adults.
  • Maintain supportive learning environments and promote students’ SEL.

How to Use the SEL Roadmap

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The SEL Roadmap is designed to support school leaders and leadership teams in planning for the transition back to schools, in whatever form that takes. While this guidance is written for schools, states and districts will also play critical roles.

There are four SEL Critical Practices, each with 3-5 activities. Within each activity, users are guided through Essential Questions, Actions to Prepare & Implement, and Tools to Support the Actions. You’ll also find Guidance to Sustain the Work. Critical Practices include:

  1. Take time to cultivate and deepen relationships, build partnerships, and plan for SEL.
  2. Design opportunities where adults can connect, heal, and build their capacity to support students.
  3. Create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote all students’ social and emotional development.
  4. Use data as an opportunity to share power, deepen relationships, and continuously improve support for students, families, and staff.

Use the download organizer to preview the SEL Roadmap, prioritize activities, and prepare to dive into the full document with your team.

Critical Practice 1: Take time to cultivate and deepen relationships, build partnerships, and plan for SEL

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      • Interview and Survey Your Community About the Path Forward (CASEL) This process, sample letters, and survey templates can be used to assess current successes and areas for additional support in your school community.
      • SEL Effort Inventory and Analysis (CASEL) This interview protocol and inventory template can be used to review both schoolwide SEL efforts and efforts used by individuals and school partners to prioritize the most impactful practices for the coming year.
      • Administer Distance Learning Surveys to Students, Families, and Staff (Panorama Education) These downloadable open source surveys can be used to elevate student voice, teacher/staff/administrator feedback, and family and community needs.
      • For Educators: Resource Mapping Strategy (Harvard Graduate School of Education) This strategy helps educators identify and analyze existing school resources and programs related to SEL, climate, and well-being to make informed decisions.
      • Focal Students: Equity in the Classroom (Webinar from the National Equity Project) This approach supports educators to learn deeply from a few students, particularly those who are not well-served by current systems, to change practices to impact a greater number of students.
      • Conducting Focus Groups (Community Toolbox) This guide contains a checklist, examples, and a summary PowerPoint presentation to prepare staff or community leaders to facilitate a focus group.
      • Criteria for an Equitable School—Equity Audit (Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium) Use this questionnaire to reflect on the climate, processes, and content that enable students and staff to perform at their highest levels.

Critical Practice 2: Design opportunities where adults can connect, heal, and build their capacity to support students

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      • Creating Staff Shared Agreements (CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL) This tool provides a process for co-developing agreements about how all staff will work together, communicate, and interact to achieve a shared vision.
      • Educator Resilience and Trauma-Informed Self-Care: Self-Assessment and Planning Tool (Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR) This self-care assessment asks teachers to first reflect on their current self-care practices and then helps them build a plan for the future.
      • Self-Care Circle (Circle Forward, via Greater Good Science Center) This circle protocol can be used with adults or students to center themselves and reflect on and share ways to practice self-care.
      • SEL 3 Signature Practices Playbook (CASEL) This mini-book provides practical ways to introduce and broaden the use of SEL practices in classrooms, schools, and workplaces.
      • Listening as a Leadership Strategy: Getting Started With Constructivist Listening (National Equity Project) These slides introduce constructivist listening and include a practice activity to try with staff.
      • 5 Minute Chats With the Principal (CASEL with support from NAESP) This sample check-in agenda and questions can be used by school leaders when connecting individually with staff members.
      • Flexibility, Listening Without Judgment Critical to Support Educators of Color (Education Dive) This brief article offers essential perspective, particularly for white school leaders, to build understanding of the disparate experiences of educators of color.
      • Hosting Virtual Circles (Healing Circles Global) This tool links to a circle planning template, details the logistical adjustments needed to conduct a circle virtually, and provides clear instructions for using Zoom and ensuring participants can successfully join the group.
      • Sentence Stems for Adult Community Building (Dallas Independent School District) These sentence stems can be used at the beginning or end of staff convenings to reflect and listen to each other.
      • Reflecting on Personal SEL Skills (CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL) This tool can help school staff to reflect on their own social and emotional growth.
      • Teachers are Anxious and Overwhelmed. They Need SEL Now More than Ever (Cipriano & Brackett via EdSurge) This article shares insights from a recent survey of teachers about the emotions they are experiencing in connection with COVID-19 and distance learning, illustrates ways in which these emotions impact teaching and learning, and concludes with the recommendation to build a staff charter to answer the questions “How do we want to feel as a staff?” and “What do we need to do for everyone to feel this way?”
      • Leading Through the Portal to Claim our Humanity (National Equity Project) This article highlights how the current moment marks an opportunity to practice radical compassion, confront inequities, re-order our priorities to focus on our collective well-being, and lead human-centered, structural change. If sharing this article with staff as a launch for discussion, see this related discussion guide.
      • Futures Protocol (National School Reform Faculty) This protocol harnesses the creative energy of a team for expanding and envisioning opportunities and paths forward, focusing on collective brainstorming on the best possible future scenario.
      • Avoiding Racial Equity Detours (EdChange) This short article describes four common ways schools and districts attempt to address equity while avoiding the discomfort of directly challenging racism and racist structures and policies, and follows with five principles to guide equity actions.
      • If We Aren’t Addressing Racism, We Aren’t Addressing Trauma (Simmons, via ASCD) This blog from Dena Simmons provides critical context to push educators to “interrogate, with an anti-racist lens, the curriculum, learning experiences, and school policies to which our Black students are subject.”
      • Empathy Techniques for Educational Equity (Stanford This printable booklet is a tool to help educators develop awareness of their biases and reflect on and locate opportunities to design for equity.
      • The Return (Chiefs for Change) This guides education leaders on how to prepare and plan for the return to school, suggesting logistical and policy reforms as well as areas for prioritization, including student social and emotional well-being.
      • Professional Learning Plan for SEL (CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL) This webpage includes a tool to organize a customized professional learning plan for school staff that is clearly tied to the schoolwide goals for SEL, can be assessed for effectiveness throughout the year, draws upon available resources, and includes intentional follow-up to ensure that new practices are sustained.
      • Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools (National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments) This online module and handouts provide examples of ways to incorporate trauma sensitivity into the classroom.
      • Stress and the Brain (Turnaround for Children) This professional learning packet explains how stress impacts the developing brain and related tools (made to accompany this edition of The 180 Podcast).
      • Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom: A Resource for Educators (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network) This professional learning tool defines key terms, describes developmental differences in how children may be affected by racial trauma, and offers recommendations for creating a more trauma-informed classroom.
      • Common Beliefs Survey: Teaching Racially and Ethnically Diverse Students (Teaching Tolerance, via Greater Good Science Center) This professional learning activity leads staff to reflect on their beliefs and then critically examine commonly held beliefs about how to meet the learning needs of racially and ethnically diverse students.
      • Mindful Reflection Process for Developing Culturally Responsive Practices (Dray & Wisneski [2011], via Greater Good Science Center) This independent reflective practice guides educators to process a challenging interaction with a student by examining their own assumptions, prejudices, and biases and consider how they affect their interactions with and expectations of their students to develop more culturally and linguistically responsive approaches.
      • Webinar Series: Teaching and Leading in the Time of COVID-19 (Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at AIR) These webinars on supporting students and teachers’ emotional well-being through self-care include handouts and worksheets teachers can use on their own and with students.
      • Adverse Childhood Experiences (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) This webpage includes a short video, infographics, statistics, and links to additional training tools to introduce staff to their role in reducing the impact of ACEs.
      • SEL Online Education Module (Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) This free professional learning module can be self-directed or facilitated in a group setting. It is divided into 6 segments: Introduction to SEL, Embedding SEL Schoolwide, Creating a Professional Culture Based on SEL, Integrating SEL into Culturally Responsive Classrooms, Trauma Informed Social Emotional Learning, and Identifying and Selecting Evidence-Based Programs.
      • Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for Educators (Friday Institute) Registration is available through August 1, 2020 for this free online course, designed to build foundational understanding of SEL, strengthen one’s own SEL skills, see examples of how others teach these skills, and learn strategies to apply with students.

Critical Practice 3: Create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote all students’ social and emotional development

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      • Guidance for Trauma Screening in Schools (National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice) This guide outlines the role of schools with regards to trauma screening, including key considerations and cautions, different screener options, intervention options, and connections to a whole-school approach.
      • Why We Need Trauma-Sensitive Schools (Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative) This video stresses the importance of trauma-sensitive learning environments to support students.
      • Trauma-Informed School Strategies During COVID-19 (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network) This fact sheet offers information on the physical and emotional well-being of staff, creating a trauma-informed learning environment, identifying and assessing traumatic stress, addressing and treating traumatic stress, partnerships with students and families, cultural responsiveness, emergency management and crisis response, and school discipline policies and practices.
      • Trauma-Informed SEL Toolkit (Transforming Education) This toolkit includes everything needed to deliver a two-hour professional development session designed for educators seeking research-based strategies to create a healthy classroom environment for students who have experienced adversities and trauma.
      • Teacher Training Modules (National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement) These professional learning modules provide a structure for supporting grieving students.
      • COVID-19 Pandemic Resources (National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement) These resources to support grieving students include sample scripts for educators, presentations for mental health professionals and school staff, and tips to share with families.
      • Mental Health Resources for Adolescents and Young Adults (Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine) This list of online resources aimed at adolescents and young adults includes support groups, peer networks, helplines, treatment locators, and advocacy opportunities.
      • Strategies for Teaching Fearless SEL for Societal Change (Simmons (2019), via Greater Good Science Center) This SEL integration tool shows how CASEL’s five SEL competencies can create the conditions for youth agency and engagement and social change and can be a key part of classroom-based learning.
      • COVID-19: How Can We Make Choices that Promote the Common Good? (Facing History and Ourselves) This youth conversation lesson encourages students to share their views, values, and voices to strengthen the community.
      • Speaking Up Against Racism Around the Coronavirus (Teaching Tolerance) Written for teachers to address stereotypes, xenophobia, and racism in connection with COVID-19, this article contains links to Teaching Tolerance guides for responding to hate or bias incidents and resources for educators to facilitate critical conversations about bias and stereotypes.
      • Talking to Students About Race and Ethnicity (Teaching Tolerance) Packaged tools, webinar, and publications to support conversations with students about race, the Black Lives Matter movement, and injustice.
      • Talking About Race (National Museum of African American History & Culture) This online portal is designed to help educators, families, and other individuals talk about racism, racial identity, and the way these forces shape society.
      • Reflecting on George Floyd’s Death and Police Violence Towards Black Americans (Facing History and Ourselves) This teaching guide will help teachers begin conversations with their students about George Floyd’s death and the events that surround it, including reflection activities to prepare for teaching, creating space for emotional processing, and diving deeper with multimedia tools.
      • Circle Scripts for Black Lives Matter at School (ROCRestorative Team, Rochester City School District) Five sample scripts for facilitating Circle discussions about race and identity, challenging racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
      • Civic Discussion Video Series (Teaching Channel) These three videos with discussion questions provide guidance on facilitating student-centered discussions on complex or controversial topics.
      • Essential Digital Citizenship Lessons for the Coronavirus Pandemic (Common Sense Education) These free lessons focus on norms and procedures for digital citizenship for virtual learning.
      • Countering Coronavirus Stigma and Racism: Tips for Teachers and Other Educators (National Association of School Psychologists) This tip sheet provides 14 brief, clear actions for preventing/stopping incidents of verbal harassment, avoidance, and exclusion in connection with COVID-19.
      • Create a Toolbox for Care (Facing History and Ourselves) Using these activities, teachers can help their students create a toolbox to take care of themselves and others during the COVID-19 outbreak.
      • Let’s Talk! Teaching Black Lives Matter (Teaching Tolerance) This webinar provides content about education and educational policy that needs to change, how to bring in students into the conversation, and resources for bringing the Black Lives Matter movement into the classroom. Teaching Tolerance offers additional Let’s Talk webinars as well as a Let’s Talk guide to help adults and young people prepare to discuss race, racism, and other topics.
      • These Books Can Help You Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids (New York Times) This book list is differentiated by age group, from 0 to 12+, and includes advice from experts about how to open lines of discussion.
      • Addressing Change & Loss for Grades PreK-2 (Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility)  This set of lessons and activities, including video, story, discussion, and movement components, can help build community among students and strengthen trust with their teacher, and can be conducted in person or virtually.

Critical Practice 4: Use data as an opportunity to share power, deepen relationships, and continuously improve support for students, families, and staff

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      • Understand and Improve Students’ Learning Experiences (PERTS—Project for Education Research that Scales) Copilot-Elevate helps educators customize a short survey to learn how students are experiencing school, review results to see how experiences are promoting or hindering equitable learning, learn new practices to try with students, and track improvement over time.
      • Strategies for Gathering Student Feedback (CASEL) Choose from or adapt these methods for hearing from your students about their learning experience in the new school year, whether instruction and learning is taking place at school or elsewhere.
      • Examining Your School’s Climate (Teaching Tolerance) This short school climate questionnaire and social mapping activity can be used to work with students to analyze differing perceptions of school climate.
      • Measuring and Improving Student-Centered Learning Toolkit (Students at the Center Hub) This set of tools includes multiple surveys, a focus group protocol, a walkthrough guide, and a reflection conversation guide to understand the extent of student-centered learning in high schools.
      • Reflecting on School Discipline and SEL Alignment (CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL) This organizer and checklist can be used to review and update policies and procedures to better align with your school’s SEL vision and promote skill-building.
      • YPAR Hub (Berkeley University) This website provides resources that help schools set up structures for Youth Participatory Action Research, which supports young people in conducting research to improve their lives, communities and institutions.
      • Engaging Young People in How Learning Happens (America’s Promise Alliance) This practical discussion guide shares a step-by-step, research-based process and questions to hear from young people about how social, emotional, and cognitive development are integrated in their schools and after-school programs.
      • Examining Transition Data With an Equity Lens (CASEL) This data reflection protocol and key questions can be used as part of a data review routine, with an eye toward how decisions impact equity and outcomes.
      • Why Am I Always Being Researched? (Chicago Beyond) This guidebook was made to help shift the power dynamic between those doing the research and the communities who are the subjects of research to address unintended bias and restore communities as authors and owners.
      • School Climate Survey Compendium (National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments) This webpage gathers valid and reliable surveys, assessments, and scales of school climate to help educators identify and assess their conditions for learning.
      • ED School Climate Surveys (U.S. Department of Education) These adaptable school climate surveys and web-based platform are free to download and administer and provide user-friendly reports in real-time; they also include a subscale on the experience of cultural responsiveness.
      • SEL Assessment Guide (Assessment Work Group) This interactive tool helps educators select and effectively use currently available assessments of students’ SEL competencies.
      • Tracking Your School’s Progress Towards Implementing Schoolwide SEL (CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL) Use the implementation rubric and planner to engage in a full review of your current SEL implementation and establish goals; then use the walkthrough protocol to look for signs of high-quality SEL implementation by observing for the indicators of schoolwide SEL.

Thank you to our Partnering Organizations

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