SEL Implementation Guidance

The purpose of the Social and Emotional Learning Implementation Guidance is to provide schools with guidance and resources to help schools integrate social emotional learning (SEL) into schoolwide teaching and learning practices, so that students will learn, practice and model essential personal life skills that contribute to academic, vocational, and personal success. Integrating SEL into school helps students learn to: be caring and civil; make healthy decisions; problem-solve effectively; value excellence; be respectful and responsible; be good citizens; and be empathic and ethical individuals.

Collaborating with Experts to Develop SEL Guidance

Guidance Development Process and Contributors
The School Safety Technical Assistance Council formed a work group in 2015 that focused on finding and developing SEL resources. Since these initial efforts, School Safety Technical Assistance Center staff have worked with experts in the field to develop the SEL guidance.

Ensuring Effective SEL Implementation

Great Lakes Equity Center (GLEC) experts provided feedback on the SEL guidance and competencies. To assist schools and districts throughout the nation with implementing culturally responsive SEL, GLEC provides additional guidance. Read the Great Lakes Equity Center SEL Implementation Guidance.

SEL Framework: Five Competencies

The work group selected the Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) framework of five Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies that are important for students to possess: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. In the documents that follow, we define each of five SEL competencies separately and outline learning goals under each competency, which set expectations for what students should learn and be able to do for each of the competencies.

Relationship Skills Competency
Self-Awareness Competency
Self-Management Competency
Social Awareness Competency
Responsible Decision-Making Competency

Social Emotional Learning District Implementation and Professional Development Guidance

This guidance will take you through the SEL implementation process from the foundational work to assess capacity and develop plans for implementation to detailed guidance on implementation and assessment.

District Focus

The most effective SEL implementation requires districts and schools to use a strategic, systemic approach that involves everyone from district and school leaders to community partners and families. Everyone needs to work together to ensure students receive the support they need. Successful SEL implementation is not achieved through a stand-alone program or an add-on lesson; it must be a central part of how schools, communities and families value and support the social, emotional and academic development of their children.

This SEL implementation guidance is a suggested framework for comprehensive districtwide SEL implementation using CASEL’s Theory of Action framework, which is outlined below.

  • Develop a vision that prioritizes academic, social and emotional learning.
  • Conduct an SEL-related resources and needs assessment to inform goals for schoolwide SEL.
  • Design and implement effective professional learning programs to build internal capacity for academic, social and emotional learning.
  • Adopt and implement evidence-based programs for academic, social and emotional learning across all grade levels.
  • Integrate SEL at all three levels of school functioning (curriculum and instruction, schoolwide practices and policies, family and community partnerships).
  • Establish processes to continuously improve academic, social and emotional learning through inquiry and data collection.

Assessing SEL Practices and Outcomes

Social and Emotional Learning Assessment Guidance
To better understand how district, school, and classroom practices support the social and emotional development of all students, it is important to assess both SEL practices and outcomes. This guide outlines the purpose of SEL assessment as well as the types of SEL assessment such as outcome and process-based assessments.

SEL Resource List