Several current innovative perspectives on educational practice are aligned with SEL or create opportunities for SEL. Approaches like mindfulness, student-centered practices, and college and career readiness support student development and often create opportunities for students to practice competencies.
Preschool and Elementary SEL-Related Approaches
Whole School Whole Child (student-centered practices):
- The Whole School Whole Child model engages teams of 8 to 12 City Year AmeriCorps members to serve full-time in underserved and under-resourced schools as tutors, mentors, and role models. Corps members support classroom teachers by providing one-on-one and small group instruction in math, literacy, and social emotional skill building, engaging students in extended-day activities, and leading positive whole school events. All interactions between AmeriCorps members and students are guided by a consistent youth development approach. This asset-based mindset allows City Year AmeriCorps members to build positive near peer relationships with students, and model social and emotional competencies. The City Year AmeriCorps members are also trained in the Clover Model which provides a common language to consider student development, access strengths, and provide learning experiences in four categories: active engagement, assertiveness, belonging, and reflection.
- Results from a quasi-experimental evaluation using data from 2010 to 2014 support the effectiveness of City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child program. The evaluation included 678 schools (Economically disadvantaged = 81%, Limited English Proficient = 18%). The evaluation found that elementary, middle, and high school students who participated in the program achieved higher standardized test scores in math, and elementary and high school students achieved higher standardized test scores in English compared to students in the comparison group (outcomes achieved one year after baseline). Although outcomes demonstrate significant increases in standardized test scores for the intervention group, their analyses did not adjust for pre-test outcomes.
Middle and High School SEL-Related Approaches
- .b (pronounced “dot b”) is a mindfulness program for 11-18-year-olds (nine sessions plus an Introduction) that was developed, and is primarily used in the United Kindom but translated into many languages, including Spanish. A USA version is being used in schools in North America. The program focuses on developing attention training skills which, in turn, are associated with strategies and techniques for managing anxiety and reactivity and improving sleep, self-esteem, and concentration. Students explore how this attention training can help to improve the quality of their behavior and performance in, for example, the classroom, on the sports field, and in the performing arts. Each session takes a different theme, typically including a brief presentation by the teacher with the help of lively, student-oriented visuals, film and sound images, and practical exercises and demonstrations to make the ideas vivid and relevant to students’ lives.
- .b is designed to be taught by classroom teachers who have completed their own course of mindfulness training and who also engage in regular daily mindful practice, prior to receiving the training to teach .b.
- A quasi-experimental study (Kuyken, Weare, Ukoumunne, Lewis, Motton, Burnett, & Cullen, 2013) with 487 predominantly white students (71.8% White, 16.2% Asian) found lower depression among participating students at both post-test (at nine weeks) and follow-up (three months later). The study also found improved well-being at follow-up although not at post-test.
- Kripalu Yoga in the Schools (24 sessions) is a yoga-based program that includes three modules: Fundamentals of Yoga for Self-Management; The Role of the Physical Body in Self-Management; and Taking Yoga Out into the World. Each lesson contains centering/breathing exercises, information, experiential activities, warm-ups, yoga poses, relaxation, and closure. Direct instruction of competencies is minimal other than self-awareness and self-management, although the program is likely to create a context where students develop relationships and a sense of an ethical community.
- The Kripalu Yoga in the Schools curriculum is designed to be implemented by certified yoga teachers who have received the 60-hour teacher training. Many Kripalu Yoga in the Schools teachers are both classroom teachers and yoga teachers.
- A small randomized control study (n=51) involving predominantly white high school students (Noggle, Steiner, Minami, & Khalsa, 2012) found that students who were randomly assigned to the yoga group vs. PE as usual (classes were led by a yoga instructor rather than classroom teacher) had improved mood and reduced tension at the post-test at ten weeks relative to control students.
- Learning to BREATHE (six or 18 sessions) is a high school program that focuses primarily on developing skills related to the self. It is intended to help students (1) recognize the nature of emotions in order to act on them more thoughtfully, (2) understand the nature of thoughts in order to let go of the ones that are harmful to self and others, and (3) improve awareness of physical sensations in order to foster health and well-being. Six lessons are organized around B-R-E-A-T-H: B “Body”; R “Reflections (Thoughts)”; E “Emotions”; A “Attention”; T “Tenderness – Take it as it is”; and H “Healthy Mind Habits.” The overall goal is E “Empowerment.” Each lesson includes activities and in-class mindfulness practice.
- The program offers a variety of implementation plans, including one that expands the program to 18 sessions. To support implementation teachers receive eight weekly two-hour after-school training sessions based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. The first four sessions focus primarily on the teacher’s own mindful awareness practice. The remaining sessions focus on helping teachers to become more mindful during teaching.
- A small quasi-experimental study with 216 predominantly white high school students (Metz, Frank, Reibel, Cantrell, Sanders, & Broderick, 2013) found improved emotional regulation in students after 16 weeks at post-test among students receiving the program relative to control students.
- Transformative Life Skills is a yoga-based program for secondary students that focuses on movement (i.e., yoga), breathing, and meditation. The curriculum consists of 48 scripted lesson plans in four separate units of 12 lessons each that address “The Stress Response,” “Physical and Emotional Awareness,” “Self-Regulation,” and “Healthy Relationships.” Each unit takes four weeks to complete. Weekly lessons are divided into three 20-minute sessions, and each lesson provides opportunities for extensive practice. Extension activities available with the program would help connect the program to broader social and emotional learning, including through community service.
- A randomized control study (Frank & Bose, 2013) with 159 students (54.2% Latino, 16.8% African American, and 21.9% mixed race) found that students who received the program as implemented by a program staff person rather than a teacher had improved coping and emotional regulation skills.
The program can be implemented by yoga Instructors or regular classroom teachers who have received training to support implementation of Transformative Life Skills. The training provides a variety of ways for teachers to integrate breathing, action, and centering practices into their daily instructional routines and teaching practices. Transformative Life Skills can be implemented by regular classroom teachers, and professional development is available in person and online, along with coaching to provide follow- up support.
Table of Contents
- About the Guide
- Overview of SEL
- Review Process
- Inclusion Criteria
- Rating Framework
- Rating Tables (PreK Programs)
- Rating Tables (Elem. Programs)
- Program Descriptions
- Guidelines for Selecting Programs
- Summary of Findings