How Do I Engage My Community Around Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

What You'll Learn

In this article, you’ll learn about strategies that our partners have used to effectively communicate about the SEL initiatives in their schools.

Why Early Communication around SEL Matters

Panorama for SEL 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, “Many of you have wondered whether our girls are better equipped to work towards long-term goals. Measuring Grit through Panorama for SEL will help us answer that question. In turn, we can use this to target interventions in our school.”
  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.”

Take Action

Ways to Communicate with Teachers and Families Before the Measurement

  • Notify families about SEL initiatives by sending a letter home with students (customizable sample letter), 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).

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? Learn more and use our Resource Kit:  Sharing SEL Priorities with Your Team.

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