In elementary and secondary schools that have strong SEL implementation on their campuses, students have highly positive perceptions of the relationships between classmates and between adults and students. At these schools, teachers also feel that their work environment is more positive than teachers at schools with less integration of SEL. Interestingly, and importantly, these results were even stronger in high-needs schools (that had been implementing SEL for at least four years) as compared with non-high-needs schools.
These findings tell us that relationships in school and school climate matter. As SEL moves from what we do to also who we are, these research findings lay the groundwork for a focus on SEL in adults. We know that we are one of the national leaders in SEL work, but there is always more work to do, and a clear next step is working with adults to improve their SEL skills. We want teachers, staff, and parents to be able to model and embody the same skills and spirit of SEL that we promote in our students to impact learning.
This year, 450 campus administrators were trained in trauma-informed care and culturally responsive teaching. James Butler, SEL Mindfulness Specialist, and the rest of the SEL Team are offering professional development in Mindfulness for educators. The SEL Team has worked closely with campuses to ensure teachers have the tools for self-care, effective teacher language, and avoiding power struggles, among other adult-centered topics. A cross-sectional group of AISD leaders (called the Fellowship) meets regularly to deepen their knowledge of SEL research and best practices, in order to create the next iteration of AISD SEL, which we are calling SEL 2.0.