We’re excited to share the first edition of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development’s monthly newsletter. Our plan is for each newsletter to provide updates on the work of the Commission, news from our partners and friends, and a selection of media clips. Please share any thoughts you have about how we can make this newsletter successful by emailing us at AspenSEAD@aspeninstitute.org.
National Commission Updates
Inaugural Meeting Highlights
The National Commission’s inaugural meeting—held last month in Washington, DC—marked an energizing and productive start to the Commission’s exploration of how K-12 schools can fully integrate social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD). The Commission, along with its Council of Distinguished Educators, Council of Distinguished Scientists, Youth Commission, Partners Collaborative, and Funders Collaborative all met together as part of a deliberate effort to bridge different perspectives and work at the intersection of research, practice, and policy.
At the meeting, Commissioners heard directly from students, researchers, and educators. Several key themes emerged from the conversation, including:
- Integrating SEAD requires the entire K-12 community. This work is not the responsibility of schools alone, and community engagement is essential to meaningful and lasting change.
- Efforts to integrate SEAD should be driven locally. Context matters—local schools and districts must determine the specific strategies that will work best in meeting their students’ and communities’ needs.
- Effectively implementing SEAD requires a change movement and a culture shift. It’s not a program, an add-on, or another initiative. It must be a systemic reorganization that includes teaching and learning, school climate and culture, and school-community partnerships.
- Educators already believe that SEAD is important. They know first-hand how SEAD shapes their students’ learning. But they must be given the time, space, and support to effectively integrate and implement SEAD.
- Science tells us that learning happens in a social context and relationships are essential to learning. As such, a focus on SEAD matters for both supporting students academically and preparing them for college, career, and life.
You can watch the Research Overview with Dr. Patricia Kuhl from the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and Dr. Mark Greenberg from The Pennsylvania State University who shared mounting evidence supporting the need to fully integrate social, emotional, and academic development in K-12 education. You can also view Perspectives from the Field with three members of the Council of Distinguished Educators who offered personal insights from practice at the district, school and classroom levels.
Finally, we invite you to check out further research and other resources, including our SEAD Fast Facts infographic and our comprehensive portfolio of SEAD readings from the popular and academic press.
Commissioner Blog Posts
Commissioners Hugh Price and Ellen Moir share their engaging insights about the first Commission meeting, the importance of SEAD to student success, and their own work to promote learners’ comprehensive growth. Read their blog posts: “How Can We Help Students Thrive?” and “The Missing Piece of Education Reform.”
In addition, Council of Distinguished Educator member Joshua Starr reflects on lessons to be learned from educators in understanding the real world challenges of integrating social, emotional, and academic development in K-12 education.
Stay tuned for additional posts and reflections from other Commissioners and Council members.
The National Commission is committed to generating conversation and listening to multiple perspectives as it explores how education can support the comprehensive development of all students. As part of this effort, we recently conducted a social media campaign to gather insights and perspectives from the field on how to re-envision success for our schools. Using the hashtag #TellNCSEAD on Twitter and Facebook, we solicited open-ended feedback for Commissioners’ consideration.
The feedback centered on four themes: 1) the need for explicit educator preparation on teaching social and emotional competencies, 2) the importance of integrating social and emotional learning into both everyday lessons and school culture, 3) the need to explore effective measurements of social and emotional growth, and 4) the importance of school partnerships with families and community organizations for successfully supporting all students’ social, emotional, and academic development.
See a synopsis of the feedback, including sample tweets. Thanks to those of you who shared your insights! The Commission looks forward to future opportunities to learn from your expertise.
Voices of SEAD: News From Partners and Friends
- Learning Heroes has conducted focus groups and quantitative studies to better understand how to connect with parents and guardians and provide them with the information and resources they need to support their child’s educational success. On December 12 at 2:00 pm ET, Learning Heroes will host a webinar and share highlights from its 2016 research to help inform the way organizations reach and engage parents. RSVP for the webinar.
- Positive school climates contribute to academic achievement and can improve outcomes for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, according to a new study published in the American Educational Research Association’s Review of Educational Research.
- How can states and school districts leverage the flexibility of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support students’ social, emotional, and academic development? The latest policy brief from Transforming Education makes three recommendations. Transforming Education also recently published a case study on California’s CORE Districts and their groundbreaking data system that sees students as whole people, not just test scores.
- The Pennsylvania State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently published an issue brief on teacher stress and health, which found that teacher stress can be reduced when students participate in social and emotional learning programs.
Please email us if you have SEAD-related resources, initiatives, or events you would like us to share.
SEAD In the News
- Commissioner Antwan Wilson is District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser’s pick to be the next Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. We can’t wait to see how Wilson, who currently serves as the superintendent of Oakland Unified School District, brings his passion for social and emotional learning to the district. Read more about Wilson’s new role here.
- “Soft skills” are among the most sought after skills that employers look for in potential employees. According to a recent survey, many employers feel that job-seekers lack these basic competencies, highlighting the valuable role educators can play in helping their students become career-ready.
- Students demonstrating self-control is crucial for maintaining a positive atmosphere in the classroom, and these skills can be strengthened and taught. Educator Larry Ferlazzo takes on the topic of self-control in a four-part series on his blog, Classroom Q+A. In the latest entry, he collects tips on teaching self-control from six experts in the field.