Voices from the Field: How Schools Are Addressing Social-Emotional Learning

Schools and districts across Massachusetts are making progress when it comes to advancing SEL. We wanted to give educators and school leaders a chance to share the important work happening in their schools and the impact SEL programs are having on students.

"Monson has been addressing SEL for many years now, using appropriate student-counselor ratios, a comprehensive, developmental school counseling program, 6-year Individualized Learning Plans, and a rigorous K-12 career and college readiness curriculum. However, this year the Superintendent created a mindfulness focus. All administrators and staff have participated in professional development, there will be mindfulness rooms in each school, and an on-going focus on the whole child. We’ve already seen the impact of this new focus. Teachers are incorporating social-emotional learning components into their lessons and students are reporting feeling less stressed and better able to focus on their academic tasks.  We’re in the process of collecting data to measure the effectiveness and expect to report gains in multiple areas as a result of this new focus. It is both exciting and rewarding to see what happens when SEL is given its proper emphasis in the bigger educational context."

 - Bob Bardwell | Director of School Counseling, Monson High School

"Like many districts, our concerns for Social Emotional Learning have recently become paramount in school and district improvement efforts. In order to be proactive in our planning, we are drafting an SEL Integration Plan that will inform the development of a comprehensive PK-12 SEL Curriculum. The Integration Plan identifies opportunities for using updated and existing SEL curriculum materials to enhance classroom instruction throughout the district. SEL is not an “add-on” in Belchertown. It bridges the gaps between content areas by highlighting interrelated competencies like problem solving and compassion. It is an essential component of the long-term success of every student.​"

 - Shawn Fortin | Director of Teaching and Learning, Belchertown Public Schools

"At the Bates Elementary School, social-emotional learning is a core instructional content area. All of our students in grades K-2 get lessons in Social Thinking and the Zones of Regulation for 45-minutes a day. As a special education inclusion school, we are working to support all our students with self-regulation and the ability to accept and celebrate all the diverse members of their classroom. Our students are explicitly taught how to describe feelings and behavior as well as respond appropriately when another student may be having a difficult time. With a 47% decrease in suspensions last year, we are seeing the impact that a commitment to social-emotional learning has on students and adults."

 - Andrew Vega | Principal, Bates Elementary School, Boston