The SEL Innovations series aims to help the field imagine new, more expansive and equitable approaches to SEL and wellness to ensure that all children, adolescents, and adults feel safe, supported, and seen so that they can thrive. The purpose of this second report is to highlight the importance of systemic, integrated SEL in classrooms.

Over the past decade, there has been increased acknowledgement of the central role social and emotional learning (SEL) plays in the growth of young people. But what does this look like in the classroom? How can we continue shifting from a narrow definition of SEL as a standalone program to a fully integrated approach to learning and thriving?

When done thoughtfully and with a lens towards equity, meaningful inclusion, and excellence, approaches that integrate SEL with academics provide robust and consistent opportunities for high-quality learning and engagement. While SEL and academic integration can occur many different ways, we focus on inquiry-based learning strategies as one promising approach. This report explores Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) as examples of integrated, systemic approaches to SEL that allow students to be authors and co-designers in their own learning.

The report also offers case studies in Academic Integration, featuring:
  • A sixth grade STEMpathy Club (The Nora Project)
  • A ninth grade English language arts class (Compose Our World)
  • A high school committee of students, staff, and researchers (Restorative Justice Project Advisory Committee)

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SEL Innovations

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