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Championing social and emotional learning at the state level

Championing SEL at the state level

By Maggi Ibis
August 21, 2019

In recent years, social and emotional learning (SEL) has become a priority for many school districts. SEL is the process through which children develop the skills to understand and regulate emotions, set positive goals, make responsible decisions, show empathy, and maintain relationships. A growing research base shows SEL can foster supportive learning environments, and by focusing on the intersection between social wellness and academic achievement, improve student outcomes.

To support districts and schools in implementing SEL, the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is providing Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) staff with coaching as they develop SEL structures and resources. The team will deliver two webinars to educators across the state and facilitate three community of practice sessions at pilot schools. The overall goal is to provide IDOE with a better understanding of school and district readiness to implement SEL, how educators can most effectively fuse SEL into everyday practice, and what structures and resources can best support these efforts.

Throughout the process, REL Midwest researchers will work alongside Christy Berger, IDOE assistant director of social, emotional, and behavior wellness. As IDOE’s champion for child development, Berger understands the importance of integrating SEL into Indiana classrooms. “We know stressed brains do not learn as effectively as brains that feel safe, brains that can emotionally regulate and feel connection,” Berger said. “By using the newly released IDOE resources to address the social, emotional, and mental wellness of our students, educators will not only improve academic outcomes, but preventatively address issues such as bullying, suicide prevention, and school violence.”

Spearheading the project is REL Midwest researcher Kyle Fagan, Ph.D. Dr. Fagan’s goal for the coaching sessions is to strengthen communication between IDOE and districts as they work together to make SEL a core component of their vision for improving student achievement. “We are excited to work with IDOE to leverage research on SEL implementation, connect with our experts in the field, and support schools and districts as they integrate SEL into their practice,” said Dr. Fagan.

Dr. Fagan and his team are hard at work on the project, which will span the 2019/20 school year.

Related resources

To explore the intersections between equity and SEL, view our infographic and webinar on this topic.

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Author information

Maggi Ibis Staff Picture

Maggi Ibis

Research Associate Intern | REL Midwest


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