Implementation Guidance

State Resource Center: Implementation Guidance

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High-quality implementation of social and emotional learning is one key to its success and sustainability. While successful implementation can follow multiple paths, there are practices and approaches that can create an environment that infuses SEL into every part of students’ educational experience and promotes equitable outcomes for all students.

CASEL recommends that states support implementation through guidance, drawing on districts’ experience with SEL, and feedback and recommendations from district leaders and educators. The resources below can help.

Resources from CASEL

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Feel free to download, customize, and use with attribution, e.g., “Adapted from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning and used with permission.”

  • SEL District Resource Center. The digital platform provides a comprehensive guide and field-tested tools for implementing through 10 areas: vision, needs assessment, standards, communication, align resources, build expertise, professional learning, integration, programming, continuous improvement. Sign up to access all the resources free of charge.
  • CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL. The digital platform includes guidance, templates and tools to help schools effectively implement SEL in four key areas: planning, adult SEL, student supports, and using data for continuous improvement. A must-read for any educator grappling with the complexity of bringing the theory of SEL into the practical everyday realities of school. Access the website. 
  • District Recommendations for How States Can Support SEL. Based on interviews with district and state leaders, this resource provides recommendations for actions states can take to encourage district implementation of SEL. Use it if you want to support districts in your state in developing or strengthening their SEL programming. (June 2018). Download the brief.

Resources from Other Organizations

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  • When Districts Support and Integrate Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). American Institutes for Research. This brief explores school-based SEL implementation based on the experience of CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative, including recommendations for implementing systemic districtwide SEL. Use it if you want to align SEL with academic instruction and districtwide activities. (October 2016). Download the brief.
  • Leading an SEL School. National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention SEL Resources. This brief outlines key leadership strategies required for effective SEL implementation, useful if you are interested in exploring and developing sustainable strategies for the implementation of SEL within the framework of other programs or larger initiatives. Download the brief.

Resources from States and School Districts

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  • Florida Department of Education – SEL Website. The site includes a section to help districts collaborate and an interactive, implementation landscape map. Access the website.
  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Guidelines on Implementing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Curricula. These guidelines present strategies to support broad SEL implementation, ranging from professional learning and instructional approaches to policies and community engagement. The document grounds the guidelines in the state’s anti-bullying law. Download the guidelines.
  • Minnesota Department of Education – Social Emotional Learning District Implementation and Professional Development Guidance. This guidance will take you through the SEL implementation process from the foundational work to assess capacity and develop plans for implementation to detailed guidance on implementation and assessment. Access the website.
  • New York State Education Department – Educating the Whole Child, Engaging the Whole School: Guidelines and Resources for Social and Emotional Development and Learning in New York State. This document provides information on multiple approaches to SEL and broad implementation planning. It specifically targets the implementation of voluntary social and emotional learning guidelines. Access the guidelines. 
  • Oakland Unified School District (California) – Academic Social Emotional Learning Guidance Document. Includes notes on instruction, curriculum, and professional learning. You can use this as an example of one district’s approach to implementation of systemic SEL. Download the report.
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