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Contextualizing Social and Emotional Learning: How Do We Support Teachers to Implement Quality SEL Programs?

Wed, March 28, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Fiesta Inn Centro Histórico, Floor: Lobby Floor, Room B

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


Given the increased presence of social and emotional learning curricula in education programs in low-resource contexts and emergencies, practitioners and researchers have shifted their attention to an important question: How do we implement these SEL programs with quality? How do we ensure that children build the skills to “understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (CASEL 2017). A rigorous meta-analysis (Durlak, Weissberg, & Pachan, 2010) demonstrated that the programs that proved most successful in building SEL competencies were programs that followed the SAFE protocol (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011):
•Sequenced: Connected and coordinated set of activities to achieve objectives
•Active: Active forms of learning to help children learn new skills
•Focused: At least one component devoted to developing personal or social skills
•Explicit: Targets specific social and emotional skills rather than targeting skills or positive development in general terms

But in order to ensure that SAFE works, SEL programming needs to be implemented with fidelity and teachers/facilitators need to be supported in their instructional practice (Domitrovich et al., 2008; Durlak, 2016; Elias et al., 2003). At the administrative level, teachers/facilitators need the physical resources to teach SEL curricula and be embedded in an institutional environment that supports their instructional practice. At the classroom level, there should be coordination between different school stakeholders and direct instruction to help teachers build the skills to teach SEL (Domitrovich et al., 2008; Durlak, 2016; Schultz et al., 2010).

In this panel, we explore four ways in which organizations in low-resource contexts and/or emergencies have been supporting teachers to implement SEL programs. Using an ecological lens, we will start at the individual level, with teachers. Our first paper will present findings from a mixed methods study that examined how teachers in one district in Malawi navigated the process of teaching SEL to children when there was limited professional development on the topic. Next, the International Rescue Committee will present an example from Lebanon where teachers are being supported through coaching that uses implementation fidelity data. We will then move to presentation from Right to Play who will discuss their Continuum of Teacher Training (CoTT), an approach that provides iterative and scaffolded support to teachers over a three-year period to implement play-based learning methods into their teaching practice. We will end with a systems-level perspective from Save the Children’s Healing and Education through the Arts (HEART) program; while offering individual teacher training, the program also works with facilitators to connect children to school and community-based referral systems.

The aim of this panel is to offer a variety of perspectives of how the SAFE principles are operationalized in SEL programs where time and resources are limited, and where teacher/facilitator capacity is stretched across multiple priorities.

*Domitrovich, C. E., Bradshaw, C. P., Poduska, J. M., Hoagwood, K., Buckley, J. A., Olin, S., … Ialongo, N. S. (2008). Maximizing the implementation quality of evidence-based preventive interventions in schools: A conceptual framework. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 1(3), 6–28.
*Durlak, J. A. (2016). Programme implementation in social and emotional learning: Basic issues and research findings. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46(3), 333–345.
*Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2011). Promoting social and emotional development is an essential part of students’ education. Human Development, 54(1), 1–3.
*Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.
*Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., & Pachan, M. (2010). A meta-analysis of after-school programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45(3-4), 294–309. doi:10.1007/s10464-010-9300-6
*Elias, M. J., Zins, J. E., Graczyk, P. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2003). Implementation, sustainability, and scaling up of social-emotional and academic innovations in public schools. School Psychology Review, 32(3), 303–319.
*Schultz, D., Ambike, A., Stapleton, L. M., Domitrovich, C. E., Schaeffer, C. M., & Bartels, B. (2010). Development of a questionnaire assessing teacher perceived support for and attitudes about social and emotional learning. Early Education and Development, 21(6), 865–885.

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