Social-Emotional Learning: Lessons Learned & Opportunities for MA

Devens Common Center - Devens, MA


*This event is now sold out. Please note: Tickets cannot be purchased at the door*

Join us for a full-day summit on the past, present, and future of social-emotional learning (SEL) in Massachusetts. This event aims to bring together educators, school and district leaders, policy makers, community organizations, and others who believe in the importance of enhancing SEL in Massachusetts. Through a series of 15 breakout sessions, you’ll hear from districts putting SEL policies and practices in place—including members of the Excellence through Social Emotional Learning Network, a group of 19 districts working to advance SEL. You will also learn about available SEL supports from experts in the field. 



8:30 AM: Breakfast & Registration

9:00 AM: Welcome

  • Sara Bartolino Krachman, Transforming Education
  • Chad d’Entremont, The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy
  • Jim Vetter, Social Emotional Learning Alliance for Massachusetts


9:20 AM: Keynote Address

  • Stephanie Jones, Aspen Institute/Harvard Graduate School of Education

9:45 AM: Panel

  • Sheldon Berman, Andover Public Schools
  • Rachelle Engler Bennett, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Toni Wiley, Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center


10:30 AM: Breakout Sessions - Block A

Choosing & Using Frameworks to Organize Your SEL Efforts
In this session, you will explore several social-emotional frameworks used by schools and districts throughout the nation. A high-quality SEL framework helps to organize plans and actions related to SEL by identifying a set of key competencies to prioritize across a school or district. In this session, Massachusetts educators from Lowell Public School and Shawsheen Valley Technical High School will discuss their approach and rationale for choosing a SEL framework and how they are applying that framework.

  • Rocio Camargo-Ruiz, Lowell Public Schools
  • Greg Harrison, Shawsheen Valley Technical High School
  • Josh Takis, Shawsheen Valley Technical High School
  • Richard Fournier, Transforming Education

Emotional Triggers - What Pushes Your Buttons?
In this workshop, you will learn about your emotional triggers and how they affect teaching and learning. Through fun, interactive activities, you will identify your emotional triggers, learn how to communicate and respond more effectively in stressful situations and, in turn, improve relationships with students and colleagues.

  • Angelina Hudson, FuelEd

Embedding SEL in Every Elementary Classroom, Every Day
Come learn key strategies that teachers can use to create the conditions for social-emotional and academic learning to thrive in their elementary school classrooms. You’ll learn and reflect on how to create a classroom environment that has a that has a positive community and is effectively managed, academically engaging, and developmentally appropriate. 

  • Allison Henry, Center for Responsive Schools


Student Voice: How Young People Can Shape the Future of Education
In this session you will hear from a student about the power of youth voice in shaping the future of education and learn about promising programs that are cultivating student voice across the Commonwealth. There will also be a presentation on the Rennie Center’s latest research, including recommendations for elevating the voice of students in classrooms, schools, and communities.

  • Fallon Manyika, Lowell High School Student
  • Arielle Jennings, Generation Citizen
  • Sinead Chalmers, Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy


Equity & SEL: Elevate, Interrogate, and Activate
This workshop will help educators at various levels build a better understanding about how their cultural and racial identities play a role in facilitating SEL in the classroom and its impact on equitable (and non-equitable) SEL expectations and practices. Participants will also deepen their understanding about why and how these issues are critical to SEL and equity in the classroom and walk away with tools to continue exploring after the session (and share back with their colleagues at their home districts). This session will encourage self-reflection on racial identity and focus on building meaningful relationships with students as a pathway to equity.

  • Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, Wellesley Centers for Women, SEL4MA
  • Karen Craddock, Wellesley Centers for Women, SEL4MA
  • Akira Gutierrez, Transforming Education


11:30 AM: Breakout Sessions - Block B

Prioritizing Social-Emotional Learning: Developing an Implementation Plan for your District
In this session you will hear from four Massachusetts districts working to enhance social-emotional learning in their schools. Through their work with the Excellence through Social Emotional Learning (exSEL) Network, these districts are creating detailed implementation plans. District representatives will share challenges and successes around developing system-wide approaches to embedding SEL practices in schools.

  • Tracey Calo, Grafton Public Schools
  • Amy Clouter, Shrewsbury Public Schools
  • George Farro, Whitman-Hanson Regional School District
  • Melissa Maguire, Monomoy Regional School District
  • Juanita Zerda, Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Compassion in the Classroom: A Conversation about Mindfulness as a Way of Supporting Teachers
This session will focus on building an understanding about how mindfulness practices can support educator well-being and promote an equitable environment of compassion towards self and students in the classroom. Session participants will learn about the intersections of mindfulness, social justice in the classroom, social-emotional learning, and teachers as agents of change. We will discuss lessons learned from an ongoing mindfulness program at a large, diverse school district, and resources to support others in doing this work in their own lives, classrooms, and districts.

  • Jersey Cosantino, Lesley University Mindfulness Studies Program
  • Akira Gutierrez, Transforming Education
  • Julie Morgan, Brockton Alternative High Schools
  • Elizabeth Rice, Fitchburg Public Schools

Integrating SEL into Everyday Classroom Practices – A Key Approach for Secondary Schools
Secondary students best learn SEL skills—and teachers best teach them SEL skills—when they are not add-ons. Interpersonal and self-management skills help all of us function effectively all day, every day. When teachers weave SEL into everyday classroom practices, they improve relationships, group discussions, collaborative learning, student voice, academic self-management, and more. This interactive workshop will offer research and samples that work with students and win over faculty—and foster greater academic success.

  • Rachel Poliner, Leaders & Learners Consulting

Supporting New Teachers to Develop Culturally Responsive SEL Skills
Mentoring pre-service candidates and new in-service teachers in ways that foster their development of SEL and culturally responsive teaching (CRT) skills can help them to maintain health and resilience for long-term success; competently cultivate students’ SEL and academic skills; and engage in authentic culturally responsive and equitable teaching practices to reach all students they teach. In this interactive session, practitioners will share perspectives on why and how they explicitly foster SEL and CRT skill development, followed by Q&A and a large group discussion.

  • Manuel Fernandez, Cambridge Street Upper School 
  • Christen Sohn, Cambridge Street Upper School  
  • Kini Udovicki, Cambridge Street Upper School 
  • Jane Hardin, Ribas Associates
  • Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, MA Consortium on Social-Emotional Learning in Teacher Education

All Day, All Year: How Community-Based Organizations Support Seamless SEL Experiences for Students
This session features a panel focused on the role community-based organizations play in developing children’s social-emotional skill growth during out-of-school-time programming. Panelists will focus on the vital role these organizations play in how youth experience and develop SEL skills. 

  • Brigid Boyd, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
  • Wil Cardwell, Boston After School & Beyond
  • Ashley Harton-Powell, Freedom House
  • Ivelisse Mendoza, Boston Scores
  • Ivelisse Sanchez, Generation Teach
  • Nikki Tabron, Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center


12:30 PM: Lunch

1:45 PM: Breakout Sessions - Block C

Moving Beyond Measurement: Leveraging What Matters in SEL Data
Recently the education field has been abuzz with the idea that if we care about SEL we should measure it. However, is simple measurement enough for our young people? The strongest educators collect SEL data, leverage it, and use it to inform their practices. In this session you will explore how to use data at the district and school levels to inform your SEL work, and you’ll hear from three Massachusetts leaders and educators about their successes, lessons learned, and critical considerations for next school year.

  • John Mills, Marshfield Public Schools
  • Nikki Murphy, North Andover Public Schools
  • Laura Tilton, Marshfield Public Schools
  • DJ Cervantes, Transforming Education

Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems
In this session, you will gain an understanding of the steps taken to establish a comprehensive school mental health system (CSMHS) in Methuen, MA, that includes two elements: instructional practices and activities designed to foster social emotional learning competence, and therapeutic services and supports. The discussion will include an examination of specific practices designed to support the implementation of this system, such as universal mental health screening, use of psychosocial data, and evidence-based therapeutic practices to support identified students (including group and individual therapy).

  • John Crocker, Methuen Public Schools

All Learning Is Social and Emotional: A Framework and Strategies for Integrating SEL and Academics
Integrating academic and social-emotional learning is an imperative for preparing our students for the future. Students must learn to regulate their emotions, employ and communicate critical thinking, and respectfully navigate social interactions in the context of their academic learning. Their ability to do so is what will ultimately determine their potential for success and fulfillment in our complex, competitive, and globally connected world. In this session, you will consider a framework for the integration of academics and SEL, view a lesson that intentionally integrates the two, and reflect on classroom strategies for achieving impactful results.

  • Kim Gilbert, Center for the Collaborative Classroom
  • Stephanie Hurley, Transforming Education

Integrating SEL with Classroom Management and Discipline in Middle and High School Classrooms
Participants will explore an approach to developing student SEL competencies in the context of classroom management, behavior supports, and discipline in secondary classrooms.  The session will introduce a framework and examples of promotion, prevention, and intervention strategies that can be incorporated into daily practice in any subject area.

  • Larry Dieringer, Engaging Schools 


Building Support and Momentum for SEL in Your Community
In this lively, interactive session, explore key strategies for broadening and deepening support for SEL in your school, district, or broader community. Learn effective approaches to identify key audiences to convince, mobilize stakeholders, educate about the importance of effective SEL, and generate momentum to implement and expand SEL throughout your community. Whether your goal is to influence classroom practice, increase budget allocations, secure time in the professional development calendar, gain agreement to expand SEL beyond the classroom, etc., these strategies can help you to cultivate champions and allies who can help you turn your SEL vision into on-the-ground reality.

  • Ellen Gibson, SEL4MA
  • Jim Vetter, SEL4MA


2:45 PM: World Cafe

We'll come together at the end of the conference for small group discussions on social-emotional learning and reflect on what you heard throughout the day. 

  • Jonathan Raymond, JPR Consulting


*View full event program*



Thank you to our generous sponsors for supporting this event!