K-12 Education

National Commission August Newsletter

August 7, 2017  • National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Changing Practice to Support Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

The National Commission’s Council of Distinguished Educators met recently in Washington, D.C., to reflect on the changes that are necessary to support schools’ efforts to integrate social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD) in K-12 education.

The more than 30 teachers, administrators, and district leaders from across the country who serve on the Council shared their experiences with social, emotional, and academic development integration and proposed strategies that have the potential to drive changes in practice. Their ideas included:

  • Ensuring professional learning for both teachers and education leaders addresses strategies for integrating SEAD in K-12 education and incorporating these learning opportunities at each stage of the teacher and leader pipeline, from preparation programs to ongoing professional development.
  • Making SEAD integration a district priority that is embedded in the vision of student success, infused across various initiatives and supports, and clearly articulated to educators and the broader community.
  • Authentically involving families and partners in designing and advancing SEAD integration efforts and providing them with opportunities to both learn about SEAD and see it in action.

The Council of Distinguished Educators is distilling its ideas into key practice change recommendations that it will share with the Commission to include in its culminating Report from the Nation.

Aspen Workshop Highlights Intersections Between SEAD and Equity

The Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program, in collaboration with the National Commission, hosted a workshop earlier this month in Aspen, Colorado, to consider ways to effectively integrate social, emotional, and academic development practices with other district- and state-level strategies to improve outcomes for all students. The workshop, The Whole Student and All Students: Social-Emotional Development and Equity in Education, included participants across the fields of research, policy, practice, and philanthropy. The participants discussed the need to re-frame SEAD away from a focus on “fixing” the student and towards a focus on improving the environment in which students learn and grow. They also discussed the need to provide educators with training and support on SEAD and on cultural competency to build their capacity and self-awareness. Learn more about the conversation by reading follow-up blog posts from participants Karen Pittman, co-founder, president, and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment and a member of the National Commission, and Andre Perry, columnist for The Hechinger Report and the former founding dean of urban education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Commissioner Karen Pittman

Spotlight Health: Bridging Health, Science, and Education

The National Commission convened leading experts on stress, childhood development, and the science of learning to bring SEAD into a broader conversation about public health during Spotlight Health, the opening segment of the Aspen Institute’s annual Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Commission Director Jackie Jodl moderated a panel that included Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness; Dr. Sarah Watamura, associate professor of psychology and co-director of the Stress, Early Experience and Development Research Center at the University of Denver; and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California. The panelists spoke about the role that toxic stress plays in hindering the social, emotional, and academic development of students and the need for public schools to address the link between stress and development as a public health issue. To watch the video of the panel, click here.

The Commission is Out and About

The National Commission has been actively engaging in events around the country to communicate what social, emotional, and academic development is and why it’s so important:

  • The Learning Policy Institute co-hosted a congressional briefing with U.S. Rep.Tim Ryan (D-OH) and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) to discuss the Institute’s recently released report, “Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning in the Context of New Accountability.” Commission Co-Chair and Learning Policy Institute President & CEO Linda Darling-Hammond co-authored the report and served on a panel during the event. Commissioner Leticia Guzman Ingram moderated the panel, which focused on why social and emotional learning is important for children, families, and businesses.
  • At the Random Acts of Kindness SEL Forum, Commission Co-Chair Tim Shriver and Commissioner Antwan Wilson gave keynote speeches and were joined by Commissioner and Council of Distinguished Scientists member Roger Weissberg, Commissioners Jorge Benitez and Leticia Guzman Ingram, and Parent Advisory Panelist Rob Hansen on a panel about the National Commission. Weissberg and National Commission Director Jackie Jodl also moderated a panel on the Science of SEL.
  • Commissioner Gene Wilhoit facilitated a panel during a congressional briefing focused on the Teacher Health and Wellness Act. The bill prioritizes teacher health and wellness in schools as a means to improve children’s well-being and academic outcomes.
  • The National League of Cities’ Education Policy Advisors Network Convening gathered top municipal education advisors from cities around the country to discuss issues related to education policy. National Commission Director Jackie Jodl and Commissioner Hugh Price presented on a panel addressing SEL and out-of-school time and highlighted relevant work of our community partners in this area.
  • At the Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Legislative Conference, state legislators learned more about the Commission during a session on Personalized Learning and the Whole Child.
  • At the Education Writers Association conference, Commissioner Antwan Wilson and Council of Distinguished Scientist member Stephanie Jones briefed reporters on the latest science undergirding social, emotional, and academic development and shared how some school leaders are making this work a priority.

 SEAD In the News

In this Hechinger Report op-ed, Antwan Wilson, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, highlights the steps school districts can take to make social, emotional and academic learning part of the everyday school life of all students and educators. Wilson, a Commissioner, writes that a school focused on social, emotional and academic development “looks and feels fundamentally different from one that isn’t.” Integrating social, emotional and academic learning, he adds, will put districts on the path to both excellence and equity.

Chris Harried, another Commissioner, outlines four significant steps school districts and administrators need to take in order to create an environment that blends social, emotional and academic development. In this Education Week blog, Harried highlights moments in his life that such a positive and caring environment helped him succeed in school and fulfill his goals.

In a letter to the editor responding to an Education Week commentary claiming that social-emotional learning is not supported by rigorous evidence, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and Camille Farrington cited a scientific consensus in defense of the movement toward social, emotional, and academic development. The authors, both members of the Council of Distinguished Scientists, write that the innate connection between social-emotional competencies and academic development require that we “align schooling with what we know about learning and youths’ neurobiological and cognitive development.”
Commissioner Antwan Wilson

Voices of SEAD: News From Partners and Friends

  • The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) recently published a report on SEAD and accountability from the perspective of teachers. It prominently featured insights gained from focus groups with teachers about how they can influence SEAD integration.
  • Released as a part of a joint effort with the NNSTOY, the Center for American Progress released a report in June that details how policymakers can use the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to integrate SEAD into classrooms, schools, districts, and programs.
  • The Center for Promotion of Social-Emotional Learning (CPSEL) is seeking relevant and compelling presentations for its 2018 SEL conference, to be held May 9-10, 2018, at the Hilton Harrisburg. CPSEL is looking to include presentations that address emerging research in SEAD and will be accepting proposals through August 18.
  • The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning has completed a meta-analysis based on a review of 82 positive youth development programs. The analysis, which involved more than 97,000 students, shows that children exposed to SEL instruction show sustained improvements in academic performance and social behaviors, and decreased susceptibility to emotional distress, conduct problems, and drug use.
  • The National Commission is pleased to welcome Learning Heroes, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and City Year as the newest members of the Partners Collaborative. Learning Heroes works to connect families to schools and improve social, emotional, and academic outcomes for children. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation empowers children to lead healthy lives in their homes, schools, doctor’s offices, and communities. City Year partners with high-poverty schools and communities to provide dedicated AmeriCorps members who support at-risk students and classrooms. The expertise of these organizations will be of great value as the Commission works to mobilize education stakeholders across all backgrounds in support of SEAD integration.