Engaging Your Community Around Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Why Early Communication around SEL Matters

Panorama's SEL survey offers an easy and scalable way to learn about students’ self-perceptions, how supported students feel, and how empowered teachers feel to implement SEL programs and support students with SEL. Teachers and families need to understand what Panorama for SEL is so they can help students build understanding about the SEL so that students  offer honest feedback about their experiences.

General Strategies for Building Buy-In

  1. If applicable, share the importance of the last round of data
    • If you have conducted the measurement in the past, share how the data was used and why it was important. This establishes a virtuous cycle - the more you use the data in ways that people can see that their feedback matters, the more high-quality responses you will get.
  2. Be transparent about purpose and promise feedback
    • Explain what the SEL data will help you learn. For example, “You might wonder if socialization and culture factors might discourage girls from believing their talent can be changed in the same way that boys do." Measuring Growth Mindset through Panorama for SEL will help us answer that question. In turn, we can use this to target interventions in our school, for example promoting girls' interest and confidence in STEM subjects.
  3. Leverage relationships
    • As much as possible, have people who are close to the respondents be the ones who recruit people to participate and provide their feedback. For instance, a student survey might work better if it is administered by school counselors or teachers who know the students well rather than by a new principal who is still getting to know the students.
  4. Show how the benefits outweigh the costs
    • Emphasize in specific terms how much will be learned about individual students and the school environment. Also highlight how vast the potential for improvement is while underscoring how minimal the costs are. For instance, “It will take just a couple of minutes for students to complete the SEL survey and we will learn significantly more about how to target interventions with those students.”

Ways to Communicate with Teachers and Families Before the Survey

  • Notify families about SEL initiatives by sending a letter home with students (customizable toolkit with sample letters), by sending emails to families, and by making phone calls to families.
  • Notify teachers about the measurement at a staff meeting by outlining the school or district’s strategy for the year (customizable presentation).

Why SEL Matters

Social-emotional learning describes the mindsets, skills, attitudes, and feelings that help students succeed in school, career, and life. These skills and beliefs include a wide array of topics, including growth mindset, relationships with adults, and sense of belonging at school. Educators use many names for these skills, such as “non-cognitive skills”, “soft skills”, “21st century skills”, “character strengths”, and “whole child.” 

Social-emotional learning is an important part of a well-rounded education. Research shows that SEL is an important lever for boosting academic achievement, including 11% gains in academics. Positive social-emotional skills are also correlated with improved attendance, reduced disciplinary incidents, and an 11:1 return on investment for SEL programs. 

What New Research Tells Us

To learn more about the relationship between SEL and improved academic outcomes, please explore our new research on the connections between social-emotional learning and the ABCs (Attendance, Behavior, Course performance).

Watch the next brief videos where our research team shares some exclusive findings from our national dataset that show how district administrators can better support students:

Are Stronger SEL Skills Linked to Better Attendance, Behavior & Grades? (Duration 3:39 min)

SEL as a Remedy for Course Failures? What You Need to Know (Duration 2:55 min)

Additional Resources

Read this blog post to find out how Mesa Valley (CO) "learned education isn’t black and white. [Mesa believes] a student is most successful when their social, emotional, and academic skills are all working in harmony."

Want to share your district's approach to SEL with your leadership team? Use our Resource Kit: Sharing SEL Priorities with Your Team.

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