K-12 Education

National Commission January Newsletter

January 5, 2018  • National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Commissioners See a Community-Wide Approach to Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

During the National Commission’s recent convening in Tacoma, Wash., commissioners visited schools and heard from Tacoma leaders about the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative and how their district is leveraging community partnerships to support students’ comprehensive development. Commissioners also heard from local and national experts on the intersections of social, emotional, and academic development with equity; the role of measurement; and the ways in which policymakers can support local efforts to make social, emotional, and academic development a priority.

Commissioners visited Jason Lee Middle School and the Science and Math Institute (SAMi) High School to see the Whole Child Initiative in action.

The Commissioners reflected on the lessons they learned in Tacoma and compiled their insights into key takeaways, including:

  • A community-wide approach to supporting social, emotional, and academic development requires clear vision, a common language, and strong leadership.
  • Relationships are at the core of supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development, and this holds true at both the individual and community levels.
  • Social, emotional, and academic development is about learning environments that are supportive of student’s individual needs.
  • Taking a community-wide approach to supporting the whole student requires a nuanced and robust collection of measures that reveal how well schools and their partners serve their students and provide direction on ways to improve.
  • Social, emotional, and academic development, when done successfully, encompasses a range of effective approaches that must be implemented with intentionality.

Learn more about these insights and read additional takeaways.

The Commission’s visit to Tacoma sparked a number of responses. Sydney Chaffee, the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, shared her thoughts on the value of educators seeing real-world examples of the classrooms where social and emotional learning is being done well (such as Jason Lee Middle School in Tacoma) in a blog on Transforming Education. General Craig R. McKinley, Commissioner and former president and CEO of the National Defense of Industrial Association, discussed the connection between the strategies being employed in Tacoma and preparing students with the skills they need to succeed in life on ASCD’s InService blog. Karen Pittman, Commissioner and president and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment, reflected on how Tacoma lives up to the claim of educating ‘the whole child’ in a blog on the Washington Post Answer Sheet.

Policy Panel Discusses How States Can Support and Strengthen Local Leadership

The Tacoma convening concluded with a panel discussion on how states can support local implementation of social, emotional, and academic development approaches in classrooms, schools, and communities. Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, facilitated a discussion with Steve Canavero, the superintendent of public instruction for Nevada; Mona Johnson, the director of student support for Washington state; and Jim Porter, the chair of the Kansas State Board of Education. The state leaders discussed the ways they have seen social and emotional learning benefitting students in their communities and shared guidance on how state leaders can empower districts and schools to do this work. Watch the full recording here.

Interviews of Commissioners and Local Tacoma Leaders Share Insights, Impressions

Throughout the Tacoma Commission meeting, Van Overton, a representative of the Commission’s Parent Advisory Panel and Executive Director of SpreadLoveABQ, interviewed national and local leaders on an array of topics related to supporting the whole student.

Among these leaders was General Craig McKinley who shared his view of what social and emotional learning is and the importance of partnerships in that work. David Adams, a member of the Commission’s Council of Distinguished Educators and director of Social-Emotional Learning at the Urban Assembly, spoke to the need for quality educator development in this space. And local leader, Carrie Holden, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, shared insight on the benefit of school-community partnerships and specifically discussed the relationship between Tacoma Public Schools and the Boys & Girls Club. Learn more and view interview highlights.

Case Study Examines How to Build Teachers’ Own Social and Emotional Competence

Supporting the Whole Teacher” is the second in a series of case studies from the National Commission. It highlights the need for teacher preparation and professional learning to focus on building teachers’ own social and emotional competence as a foundation for building these skills in their students. The case study highlights the Center for Reaching and Teaching the Whole Child, which works with teacher preparation programs to integrate teacher and student social and emotional competencies into their courses. Another example is RULER, an evidence-based program that trains teachers on recognizing and managing their emotions and collaborating with colleagues before they build these skills in their students.

Resources for Educators

  • In a commentary in EdSource, Lizzy Hull Barnes describes how the San Francisco Unified School District has incorporated social and emotional skills into its mathematics curriculum. The district’s work was featured in the Commission’s first case study, Putting It All Together.
  • In a commentary for Education Week, Hunter Gehlbach, a professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, selects three core social and emotional competencies for teachers to focus on to improve student engagement and achievement.
  • Two articles featuring Commissioner Leticia Guzman Ingram and her students at Basalt High School in Basalt, Colo., appeared in the Aspen Times. One focuses on the challenges English language learners face entering the United States and the ways in which social and emotional learning—and personal relationships with teachers in particular—support their success in school and beyond. The other highlights the social and emotional benefit to engaging in community art projects, particularly for students who are new to the country.
  • A blog post from Move This World highlighting the need for adult social and emotional learning references the Commission’s second case study, Supporting the Whole Teacher, in describing key steps one Nashville school has taken in addressing this need.
  • The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) released a National Principal Survey analyzing how principals across the U.S. view social and emotional learning. While principals see it as necessary to student success, they also highlight areas where they still need resources and support.

Research & Policy Resources

  • The American Federation of Teachers featured an excerpt from the Evidence Base for How We Learn, a research brief from the Commission’s Council of Distinguished Scientists that affirms and explains that social, emotional, and cognitive domains are interconnected in the learning process, in its quarterly journal, American Educator.
  • National Commission co-chairs Gov. John Engler and Linda Darling-Hammond spoke at a meeting convened by the National Governors Association for participants in NGA’s Governors’ Education Policy Advisors Institute. Gov. Engler talked about how governors can support students’ social and emotional learning, while Darling-Hammond focused on how to expand high-quality educational options for all students.
  • Larry Ferlazzo, a blogger for Education Week, hosted a discussion on the role social and emotional learning can play in the struggle for racial and economic equity. Robert Jagers, a member of the National Commission’s Council of Distinguished Scientists, posted a response.
  • In a blog post for the CASEL’s assessment workgroup (a multidisciplinary collaborative of researchers and practitioners focused on student social and emotional learning assessment), Commission Director Jacqueline Jodl details the research behind the successful implementation of social, emotional, and academic development strategies in schools and says now is the time to bring this knowledge to the classroom.
  • Commission co-chair Tim Shriver highlights the role social and emotional learning can play in equipping young people to respond to everyday challenges in their lives. In his post for Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, he refers to the work schools and districts are doing in incorporating social and emotional learning into their curricula.
  • A Fortune magazine commentary co-authored by Tim Shriver and Commission Parent Advisory Panelist Scarlett Lewis discusses the role social and emotional learning can play as a response to gun violence, particularly in light of the five-year anniversary of the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary.
  • The Science of Learning and Development Initiative released two articles (Malleability, Plasticity, and Individuality: How Children Learn and Develop in Context and Drivers of Human Development: How Relationships and Context Shape Learning and Development) that complement the  Consensus Statements of Evidence from the Council of Distinguished Scientists (CDS). The lead authors are Pamela Cantor and David Osher, who are also members of the CDS.