On October 26, 2015 a packed ballroom joined Transforming Education, MassINC and the Rennie Center in Boston to learn more about the latest research, policy, and practice in social-emotional learning. We’ve highlighted key moments of the event along with resources.
Attendees came from all over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and as far as Washington, D.C., with people across the country following along on social media. As evidenced by the great interest in the event, there are exciting opportunities in social-emotional learning in Massachusetts and beyond.
TRANSFORMING EDUCATION: RESEARCH, POLICY, & PRACTICE
Sara Bartolino Krachman and Chris Gabrieli of TransformEd previewed the compelling and rigorous research synthesized in our soon-to-be released paper Ready to be Counted: the Research Case for Policy Action on Noncognitive Skills.
Sara and Chris also shared initial findings from a field test measuring SEL skills for over 500,000 students in the CORE Districts. The CORE Districts in California received an Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver to develop a unique, holistic approach to measuring school performance as a balanced function of students’ academic outcomes, students’ social-emotional competencies, and school climate and culture. Participating districts include Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Sanger, and Santa Ana.
COLLABORATING TO DISCOVER WHAT WORKS: THE BOSTON CHARTER RESEARCH COLLABORATIVE
Marty West, Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, shared insights about the work of a researcher practitioner partnership exploring social-emotional measurement and interventions. Partnered with researchers at MIT and 6 of the leading Charter Management Organizations in the Metro Boston area, Dr. West and Transforming Education are exploring interventions in mindfulness, school transitions and social belonging, and executive functioning.
SEL FROM A STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE: MEET DEVON
Because student voice is vitally important to how and why we incorporate social-emotional learning into education policy and practice, we also screened a video of a high school student named Devon. Devon reflected on the critical role a teacher played in supporting the development of key social-emotional skills during a particularly difficult time in his life. He observed how wide-reaching the impact of that teacher and the skills she supported him in building have been.
SEL IN MASSACHUSETTS: A PANEL OF EXPERTS
Distinguished panelists discussed social-emotional learning as a “tier one strategy” (Meg Mayo-Brown) for all kids, the priority of building a strong school climate (Colleen Lennon), the importance of employers being part of the conversation about social-emotional skills, how community partnerships can support schools in this domain, and opportunities for K-12 education systems to learn from the work early educators are doing to support students’ social-emotional development.
“[Students] are capable of great things, not just school-wise, but as members of society.” – Colleen Lennon
POLICYMAKERS UNDERSCORE THE COMPLIMENTARY ROLE SEL AND ACADEMICS PLAY IN STUDENT SUCCESS
Commissioner Chester, Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, discussed how social-emotional learning is linked with academics.
“Let’s make sure that as we think about social-emotional learning, we think about that in a way that’s integrated with the core work of schools, which is about providing strong learning environments for children. Those two areas are absolutely compatible, [and it is] absolutely essential that they be linked together in our efforts. [We need to] mak[e] sure that students feel safe, feel supported in their emotional and social growth and that it goes hand-in-glove with the academic program that they pursue.”
– Commissioner Chester
Finally, Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education, gave closing remarks that focused on the importance of community partnerships and commitment to developing student skills.
AWARENESS OF THE ROLE THAT RESEARCH, POLICY AND PRACTICE IN BUILDING STUDENT SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL SKILLS IS A CRITICAL JUNCTURE
Attendees left energized by the research, opportunities to drive positive student outcomes and approaches that were featured at the policy forum. We look forward to continuing the collaboration with MassINC and the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy to advance the development of students’ social-emotional skills in the Commonwealth.