At CASEL’s SEL Exchange in October 2019, current and former leaders from the original Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI) who have been implementing SEL since 2011 shared important lessons learned. While each offered unique insights about how they would do things differently if they started all over, they all had one common lesson: We should have focused more on the adults in the beginning.

Time and again, districts said they mistakenly focused entirely on building the social and emotional competence of students without also considering the SEL needs of adults who are engaging with students every day. In order to create conditions for students to effectively engage in SEL, adults themselves need to feel empowered, supported, and valued. This calls on districts to foster a supportive staff community and promote adults’ own SEL. CASEL’s District Theory of Action, which is presented on the District Resource Center, identifies four key activities for strengthening adults’ SEL competence and capacity.

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