2019 Year-in-Review: The Best of SEL

As we approach the end of 2019 and many of us begin to reflect on the past 365 days, it is equal parts astonishing, heartwarming, encouraging and overwhelming to think about just how much the field of social and emotional learning has progressed in the past year, let alone the past ten years! While there have been many trends in education that have come and gone throughout the past decade, I think it is safe to say that SEL is here to stay. Recognition of the importance of social-emotional learning is at all-time high, and we are seeing record numbers in terms of support, research, and funding for ways to better educate the whole child.

To wrap-up the year, our editorial team at Inside SEL curated a list of headlines, research, events and resources that — in our opinion — constitute the “best of” 2019 in social and emotional learning. These will be released on a rolling basis, beginning on December 19 and continuing until December 31. Continue reading to take a trip down memory lane as we recap a banner year in SEL.


PODCAST: Why Social-Emotional Learning is Suddenly in the Spotlight (May 2019)

This episode of the EdSurge On Air Podcast included a conversation with guest Christina Cipriano, the director of research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. In the interview, Cipriano succinctly defined social-emotional learning, explained the origins of the topic, and shared some examples of how schools are beginning to implement SEL programs.

Listen Here >


The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) Releases Final Report (January 2019)

On January 15, 2019, the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released their final report and accompanying recommendations. Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators, and policymakers, the Commission’s final report, “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope,” seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts to support the whole learner in local communities through recommendations for researchers, educators, and policymakers.

Read More >


CASEL’s Guide to Schoolwide SEL (October 2019)

In the fall, CASEL published resource — in partnership with several schools and districts — that documented, field-tested, and refined a strategic, collaborative process for schoolwide SEL. Their methods help engage the entire school community in creating caring, motivating, and equitable learning environments that promote social, emotional, and academic growth. CASEL’s view is that schoolwide SEL helps students excel academically, build stronger relationships, and lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Read More >

Download the “Schoolwide SEL Essentials” Mini-Book >


Common Sense Media Releases a New Educator Toolkit for Social & Emotional Learning (July 2019)

From edtech tools that inspire SEL to digital citizenship curriculum ideas to SEL tools for families, this new set of resources has a plethora of options for educators and parents to learn more about character strengths and introduce actionable activities with their children. The Toolkit also includes classroom-ready resources within six character-strength-based categories (e.g., curosity, humility & gratitude, emapthy & compassion), including apps, games and websites that can promote SEL and inspire positivity.

Read More >


Transforming Education Releases New Tool for SEL Classroom Integration (June 2019)

In response to the Aspen SEAD Commission’s call for educators to integrate social, emotional, and cognitive development into academic curricula and throughout the day,” Transforming Education developed an SEL Integration Approach for Classroom Educators. This resource supports educators in thinking about ways to foster social-emotional development in their day-to-day activities through six key components: conducive environments, strong relationships, explicit instruction, thoughtful modeling, practice opportunities, and teachable moments.

Read More >


Panorama Education’s Adult SEL Toolkit (November 2019)

Promoting the development of students’ social-emotional skills starts with adults. Just as research points to the importance of integrationg social and emotional learning into academics, studies have found that teachers who work on their own SEL skills can improve their own well-being while also improving the social, emotional, and academic outcomes of their students. Adults are constantly asking for more support in both understanding social-emotional learning as well as honing their own SEL skills. This toolkit brings together a research-backed Adult SEL Readiness assessment, activities to help adults practice modeling SEL, and a SEL Exploration worksheet.

The Comprehensive Guide to Adult SEL >

Adult SEL Toolkit >


The Aspen Institute Publishes a SEAD Action Guide (March 2019)

On March 27, the Aspen Institute and partners released a new guide, titled: Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams. Building on the final report from the National Commission, this publication translates the Commission’s recommendations into actions and advice for principals and their teams — empowering them and challenging them to improve the school experience for every student.

Read More >


Understanding Student’s Social-Emotional Data (May 2019)

Transforming Education and Policy Analysis for California Education partnered to analyze data from over 500,000 students across 8 districts in California. This brief provides benchmarking data that is designed to allow practitioners to compare their aggregated data across grade levels and subgroups, better supporting their efforts to make inferences about their students’ social-emotional competencies and mindset development.

Read More >


New Research on Preparing Teachers to Support SEL (May 2019)

A series of case studies published by the Learning Policy Institute detail efforts made in two different institutions — San Jose State University and Lakewood Elementary School — to upgrade preservice and in-service training programs for educators to better support good teaching practices and implement SEL in schools.

Read More >


RAND Explores How America’s Educators Are Adopting SEL in Schools

The RAND Corporation surveyed nationally representative samples of over 15,000 K-12 teachers and 3,500 in an attempt to better understand how America’s educators are actually approaching social and emotional learning. This new report — “Support for Social and Emotional Learning is Widespread — found that large majorities of principals describe SEL as a “top priority,” and that most educators believe that SEL programs can improve student outcomes and school climate.

Read More >


Democrats Approve Millions in Federal Funding for SEL in Bill

In what was been described as a landmark investment from the federal government in social-emotional learning, the House of Representatives approved a spending bill last month that included $260 million in funding for what it calls “whole child” initiatives within the Department of Education.

Read More >


EdSurge Research Publishes Report on How Schools Are Adapting To Reach All Learners

Schools across the country are making changes—big and small—to move the needle for students. To better understand the landscape of change, the EdSurge Research Team sought out stories rooted in implementation and anchored in authentic experiences with real students. Along with a report, EdSurge has published a plethora of stories and interviews that explore how practitioners are addressing students’ needs and circumstances in order to empower all learners to flourish.

Read More >


New CASEL Report on The State of SEL Competence Assessments

What are the trends in assessing social and emotional learning and what is the field’s vision for the future? Developed by a group of scholars, test developers, and educators focused on supporting high-quality SEL competence assessment, this report describes the accelerating growth and demand for SEL assessments and envisions the conditions for continued progress. It also offers a vision of assessment that is integrated with efforts to shape policy, link assessment to practice, continue developing high-quality assessments, and systematize professional learning.

Read the Full Report >

Read the Executive Summary >


Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Publishes New Book: “Permission to Feel”

Marc Brackett is a professor in Yale University’s Child Study Center and founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. In his 25 years as an emotion scientist, he has developed a remarkably effective plan to improve the lives of children and adults – a blueprint for understanding our emotions and using them wisely so that they help, rather than hinder, our success and well-being. This book combines rigor, science, passion and inspiration in equal parts. Too many children and adults are suffering; they are ashamed of their feelings and emotionally unskilled, but they don’t have to be. Marc Brackett’s life mission is to reverse this course, and this book can show you how.

Read More >


CASEL Hosts Inaugural SEL Exchange Conference in Chicago

On October 2-4, more than 1,500 educators, researchers, policymakers, advocates, philanthropists, and national and global leaders gathered for the inaugural Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Exchange, hosted by CASEL in Chicago. CASEL brought together this wide range of SEL stakeholders to share cutting-edge research, innovative insights, and best practices to support their overarching goal: all students benefit from high-quality, effective, systemic SEL implementation. Sessions throughout the conference covered topics such as:

  • The importance of youth voice
  • Equity and diversity in SEL
  • Adult SEL as a key foundational element to SEL implementation in schools
  • The benefits of including community partners and families in SEL work
  • SEL and the future of work

Watch the Day 1 Recap Video >


Principals’ Perspectives on SEL

A new survey of 700+ principals across the nation explored how these influential school leaders view social and emotional learning. Adminstered by CASEL, the key findings of this report indicate that:

  • Principals have made progress in implementing SEL. The majority now have a long-term plan (up 12 percentage points from 2017), an SEL vision (up 10 percentage points), and are using an evidence-based SEL program (up 13 percentage points).
  • Suburban and urban schools have made a great deal of progress implementing SEL, but small town and rural schools lag significantly behind the rest of the country.
  • Nearly seven in ten principals believe SEL skills should be assessed, up from 58 percent in 2017.
  • The percentage of principals who believe social and emotional skills should be included in state education standards and guidance has nearly doubled (from 25% to 49%).

Read More >


Transforming Education Publishes Three-Part Series on Fostering Strong Relationships in Schools

Throughout the month of October, Transforming Education released a series of briefs that highlight students’ and educators’ perspectives about developing and sustaining strong relationships in school. These perspectives were collected during a series of visits they conducted to school campuses across the country in which students reported strong social-emotional skills and favorable perceptions of their school environments. Each brief summarizes the latest research on building strong relatoinships in schools and provides additional resources that teachers and leaders can use to foster strong relationships in schools.

Read More >


New Interactive Resources from the EASEL Lab at Harvard 

Earlier this month, Professor Stephanie Jones and her team at the EASEL Lab (housed within the Harvard Graduate School of Education) released Explore SEL, an interactive hub that allows users to better explore and understand various social and emotional learning frameworks.

Read More >

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