What is Social-Emotional Learning?
The Collaborative for Academic and Social-Emotional Learning (CASEL) model asserts that “social-emotional learning is an integral part of education and human development. Social-emotional learning is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” Furthermore, “social-emotional learning advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation.”
The West Irondequoit Vision for SEL...
In the fall and winter of 2019-2020, the West Irondequoit Central School District partnered with Whole Child Connection at Children’s Institute (CI) to conduct a comprehensive Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) needs-and-asset assessment. Among the conclusions and recommendations, the West Irondequoit CSD worked to establish a district Social-Emotional Learning Committee, drawing from representative groups (i.e. teachers, counselors, administrators and Board of Education members), to develop a district wide-vision and clear action plan for SEL implementation that aligns with other initiatives, such as Restorative Practices. That vision is as follows: “Through an intentional focus that balances social, emotional, and academic learning, schools in the West Irondequoit Central School District will foster and develop school community members who are prepared to achieve Peak Performance. We believe that SEL is an essential foundational pillar to support growth and development of the whole child.”
What have we done?
Our SEL Committee reviewed the results from the Children’s Institute evaluation and created a three-year implementation plan, progressively focusing on three areas:
- Strengthening adult SEL, forging relationships with students
- Promoting a renewed sense of community
- Promoting identity, agency and independence through the tenets of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.
More explicitly, a K-12 representative cohort was trained in Restorative Practices (Community Building) and building-level teams have worked to purposefully raise awareness among students and staff across the district. Further, this cohort has identified next steps for continued and further implementation of Restorative Practices in West Irondequoit. The Supervisor of Counseling, Student Equity and Wellness has shared the three-phased implementation plan among district and building leadership and through district-wide communication. Through the recent Strategic Planning process, a multi-year management plan was created to support further alignment of Restorative Practices.
Aligning to the CASEL Model...
Supporting recommendations from the Children’s Institute and aligning with the CASEL model, our SEL Committee has continued to work toward building understanding and implementation of instructional strategies that develop the 5-Core Competencies. The summer of 2021, a K-12 representative group of school counselors updated our School Counseling Curriculum Plan to embed the CASEL competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social-Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision-Making). This will support the use of consistent and aligned language for students, staff and families.
View the model here
Social-Emotional Learning and Full Re-Entry Planning...
Also during the summer of 2021, K-12 school mental health workers and principals, led by the Supervisor of Counseling, Student Equity and Wellness, collaborated to engage in data-inquiry and plan interventions and practices that would support all students upon full re-entry. This included, but was not limited to, the results from the Children’s Institute survey and evaluation in 2019, attendance data across the last three years, federal chronic absenteeism data, and at-risk transition data across grade-levels and buildings. Subsequently, teams planned and aligned SEL interventions, practices, communication and Response-to-Intervention (RtI) criteria. Four critical practices were identified in the CASEL “Roadmap to Re-Entry.”
- Take time to cultivate and deepen relationships, build partnerships & plan for SEL.
- Design opportunities to connect, heal and maintain capacity to support students.
- Create safe, supportive, and equitable learning environments that promote all students’ social and emotional development.
- Use data as an opportunity to share power, deepen relationships and continuously improve support to students, families and staff.
Additional Supports, Community-Based Partnerships & Ongoing Professional Development
With additional funding provided to school districts through the NYS CARES Act, the West Irondequoit was also able to secure additional supports to meet the needs of our students and families. We created two additional school mental health worker positions to provide support at the K-6 and 7-12 levels. These employees will work under the supervision of the Student Services office and provide support to address those impacted over the past 18 months as we work toward full re-entry. In addition, we are excited to announce a partnership with Genesee Mental Health, aimed at providing specialized and direct support to students which was based on qualitative and quantitative data across the district. Lastly, ongoing professional development will be available through our Teacher Learning Center (TLC) to support staff Wellness throughout the upcoming school year and the following trainings have been established to support SEL and Cultural Responsiveness.