Transformative SEL is a form of SEL aimed at interrupting the reproduction of inequitable educational environments by addressing issues of identity, agency, belonging, and related issues such as power, privilege, prejudice, discrimination, social justice, empowerment, and self-determination. But what does it look like in practice?

This brief spotlights three examples of how educators are taking up this challenge, and in doing so, promoting our five core SEL competencies.

  • Centering students’ lived experiences and identities in SEL instruction. This includes adapting an evidence-based SEL curriculum selected by the district to ensure that students’ identities, communities, values, and concerns are represented, but also that students are able to learn from, about, and with others who may not share their backgrounds.
  • Using SEL discussions to validate student experiences of oppression. This includes opening space to acknowledge trauma experienced at the community level, infusing broader social injustice issues into bread-and-butter SEL topics, and recognizing youth as emerging social change agents.
  • Creating space for youth to use their voice for social justice. This includes recognizing youth as emerging social change agents and sharing models of active community members that students could relate to.

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