Social & Emotional Learning Communitiy of Practice
UW Tacoma was borne of an engaged community, which continues to inform our orientation today. We recognize that the most successful UW Tacoma community partnerships are transformative and result in each partner achieving more together than alone.
Through this Community of Practice (CoP), we come together as a group sharing a common interest in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). In this SEL CoP, we work for the uptake of SEL practices that are identity affirming, trauma-informed and healing-focused. We share best practices with one another and co-create knowledge. We build authentic partnerships, facilitate introductions and interactions among community members, and explore ways to promote equitable and thriving communities.
SEL in the Schools
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is more than strategies or packaged programs. School-based SEL is a framework that creates environments where students can thrive and feel safe, a sense of belonging, and connected to others. Since students spend the majority of their day in schools, these settings are key environments where social-emotional skills can be acquired and developed.
SEL in the school includes:
1. Climate, culture, and partnerships. SEL must include the consideration of ecological contexts for learning, including both school and classroom environments. SEL promotes an inclusive climate and culture that is safe, equitable, and supportive through bi-directional partnerships with students, families, and community members. Some key practices that are needed to help build this type of supportive climate and culture includes establishing a representative and diverse district and building-level team to lead SEL work, establishing structures to support two-way communication that is ongoing between the school, SEL team, proactive discipline practices, and families and community members.
2. Adult capacity. This involves cultivating a community of adults who engage in their own social and emotional learning and examine and address their biases. Adult or educator social and emotional competence is crucial to SEL and involves critical reflection, modeling skills, supportive learning communities, and ongoing collaboration with ways to promote SEL for themselves as well as their students.
3. Instruction. SEL also includes explicit and focused instruction on key skills that promote resilience and help students flourish in life and in learning. This includes evidence-based SEL programs as well as program-independent strategies (e.g., restorative practices, emotion coaching, mindfulness-based practices). When educators explicitly teach culturally relevant and effective SEL skills through instruction and guided practice, educators help students grow socially and emotionally—and academically.
SEL in the School resources
Key SEL Concepts & Considerations: Implications for those applying SEL in the schools
SEL is best applied as a systemic and coherent framework, and involves bi-directional partnerships with schools, homes, and communities. The practices must fit the cultural and contextual realities of students and families and incorporate school discipline and other efforts to promote a safe and inclusive learning environment (e.g., school & classroom). Typically, this requires a schoolwide leadership team with district-level support. This also requires strategic planning and careful implementation and assessment planning.
Jagers, R. J., Rivas-Drake, D., & Williams, B. (2019). Transformative social and emotional learning (SEL): Toward SEL in service of educational equity and excellence. Educational Psychologist, 54(3), 162-184.
SEL leadership Kennedy, K. (2019). Centering equity and caring in leadership for social-emotional learning: Toward a conceptual framework for diverse learners. Journal of School Leadership, 29(6), 473-492.
SEL COMPETENCIES: The most commonly applied SEL Framework is the CASEL framework. It comprises 5 SEL Competencies, with both intrapersonal & interpersonal skills. SEL emphasizes assets and skills—not a reduction of symptoms or problems. SEL includes SEL programming, program-independent strategies (e.g., emotion check-ins, classroom meetings, restorative practices), 1:1 emotion coaching/validation (teachable moments). SEL strategies are infused into academics.
EDUCATOR SEL and educator social-emotional competence. We cannot facilitate SEL among others without doing the healing and growth work ourselves. We must be reflective and make intentional efforts to continue our growth across the competencies. We wouldn’t expect a math teacher to teach without knowledge of math, so why would we expect educators to teach SEL without a solid knowledge base in SEL concepts?
SEL starts at home with caregivers and families and all that they teach and bring to a child’s/youth’s development. SEL in the home creates opportunities for children and adolescents to learn and practice social-emotional skills through intentional moments and those that happen organically. Additionally, SEL in the home creates a unique opportunity for personalized learning where caregivers can use the knowledge they have about their child/youth (strengths, assets, cultural backgrounds) to help them grow socially and emotionally.
Examples of SEL in the Home
1. Conversations. Children and adolescents can discuss the SEL-related learnings or lessons from school with their families. Also, family experiences can be used as springboards for conversations, reflection, and deep learning around SEL-related values, understanding, and expression. A family’s shared background and experiences can help personalize conversations, create stronger connections and relationships, and lead to more meaningful and lasting learning.
2. Guided learning. Families can offer guided opportunities for youth to learn SEL in a natural context. They can, for example, offer children and adolescents opportunities to make choices and contribute to age-appropriate family decisions, asking youth for their ideas on how to problem-solve and helping them identify alternative solutions by weighing pros and cons. This practice creates opportunities for youth to develop a sense of autonomy, agency, and feel empowered to use their voice through choice.
3. Modeling skills. Modeling SEL skills in the home (e.g., perspective taking, breathing techniques to manage strong emotions) can afford powerful, real-life, embedded examples of SEL in a natural environment. Children and adolescents may not always learn by what adults say to them, but they often learn by what they see adults do.
Tacoma schools' partnership with Metro Parks Tacoma to provide access to experiences that aid in whole child development
Expanded Learning Opportunities allows families to plug their child into a variety of before, during and after school academic and enrichment activities, such as sports, the arts, STEM, and mentorship. We know you are dedicated to the social, emotional and academic success of your child. You can find high quality programming/activities lead by local community partners
The Imagine Neighborhood is a podcast designed to help children and grown-ups grow their social-emotional skills while using imagination to talk about the things that matter, with the people that matter most. In The Imagine Neighborhood uses stories, music, and activities to help kids and grown-ups talk about big feelings and solve problems together.
Second Step is known for their Second Step family of social-emotional learning programs that has championed the safety and well-being of children since 1979. Partnering with researchers, policymakers, and leaders to fulfill the vision of safe children thriving in a peaceful world with a commitment to ensure their programs are culturally relevant, affirming, and accessible to all children, especially those who are most systemically marginalized.
The article “How Noticing Emotions at Work Can Build Trust” by Theodore Kinni states that emotional acknowledgement is small yet powerful act. People trust the person who acknowledges the emotion directly more than the person who acknowledges the situation. This article is a great resource for workplaces and how to meet employees where they are.
Committee for Children, Adult Social-Emotional Learning resources provides blog-like articles in a list-like view to help and guide adults to work through a variety of topics such as trauma, goal-setting, self-care, and more.
GoNoodle is a site designed to help teachers and parents get kids moving with free and short interactive activities. Desk-side movement helps kids achieve more by keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the day. GoNoodle is designed with K-5 classrooms in mind.
KBTC, with the focus of zones of regulation in mind, has been able to provide social and emotional learning content through daily programming and online presence. Here are short PBS KIDS videos to help your student understand their feelings and work through them depending on how they’re feeling and what they need.
Allowing children to process their feelings and sometimes overwhelming emotions is critical in their self and social awareness. This resource shares how caring adults can have age appropriate, open and honest conversations with children about what is happening and why, and acknowledging that a child may have feelings they need help processing.
Here is a list of resources for families and educators of school-aged children (K-12) including a variety of SEL learning activities that vary from moving experiences to games and self-expression to personal challenges.
Many students, educators, and their families may need additional support because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources on this page are intended to support school districts, schools, students, parents, and families in recognizing and responding to signs of emotional and behavioral distress.
Kids’ Mental Health—Pierce County (KMHPC) is a coalition of people and agencies in Pierce County that are joining together to address the growing behavioral health crisis among school age children and youth. Find resources to help improve children’s mental health.
Teens supporting teens. There is someone willing to listen without judgment. Teen Link is a program of Crisis Connections that serves youth in Washington State. Talk about whatever’s on your mind – bullying, drug and alcohol concerns, relationships, stress, depression or any other issues you’re facing. Calls and chats are confidential.
Established in 1985, Oasis is a vital resource and destination for queer youth to find community, connect with resources, and empower one another. Oasis Youth Center is the only drop-in and support center dedicated to the needs of LGBTQ youth ages 11-24 in Pierce County.
Resources to talk with kids about racial and social injustice
Sound Discipline integrates social-emotional learning and restorative practices into classrooms, schools, and districts to build a positive school climate and create an environment in which every child can thrive and learn.
Learning to Give's vision is a world where all youth are knowledgeable and equipped for lifelong engagement in philanthropy as givers of time, talent, and treasure for the common good. Heavily focused on philanthropy education, giving promotes happiness and purpose, while teaching the givers that they are a vital part of something bigger.
Years of research and knowledge of evidence-based practices show that well-designed mental health prevention, treatment, and recovery support efforts are effective and can have multiple benefits for individuals with mental disorders, including serious mental illness. Connect with Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network to learn about working with systems, organizations, and treatment practitioners involved in the delivery of mental health services to strengthen their capacity to deliver effective evidence-based practices to individuals.
Mindfulness for Children involves a variety of engaging lessons around mindfulness – body, breath, listening, seeing, walking, etc. Kindness, generosity, gratitude, and other positive emotion practices are also covered to offer direct experiences of empowered choice to feel better.
Kids’ Mental Health—Pierce County (KMHPC) is a coalition of people and agencies in Pierce County that are joining together to address the growing behavioral health crisis among school age children and youth.
The LENS Project (Learn Empathy Negotiation & Self) violence prevention program is designed to empower students, families and service members and build community. The program uses creative projects and art-based activities to teach positive social skills and foster the development of empathy for others.
First Aid Arts provides training and support to individuals and organizations who want to offer effective arts-based care to survivors of natural disasters, human trafficking, forced migration, domestic violence, homelessness, and other types of traumas.
Dr. Laura Feuerborn is a Professor at the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT), a Faculty Fellow in Social Emotional Learning, and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Dr. Feuerborn is a co-author of several Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs, research articles, and books, including the Strong Kids & Teens programs and the Second Edition of SEL in the Classroom.
Strong Kids Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs consist of 12 carefully sequenced lessons that are designed for maximum impact on cognitive, affective, and social functioning of young students. Strong Start can be used in a variety of educational settings for typically developing children or for children who have learning or behavioral challenges.
University of Washington’s Center for Child & Family Well-Being (CCFW) transforms innovative research in child and family well-being into practical solutions to ensure all children, youth and families are resilient and thriving. Approaches and programs are infused with mindfulness, compassion and self-compassion to support the well-being of adults in children’s lives and create nurturing, supportive communities.
University of Washington’s Resilience Lab offers programming that promotes mental health and well-being by equipping participants with cognitive behavioral skills to manage emotions and cope with stressful situations, mindfulness skills to strengthen self-awareness, and practices to encourage compassion for themselves and others.
This resource shares WA HB 1208 Bill, an act relating to modifying the learning assistance program to enable school districts to focus on identifying and addressing student academic deficits due to the COVID-19 pandemic by granting program funds to implement into the framework of the Washington integrated student supports protocol.
On this page you will find information about current and past advocacy efforts for Social and Emotional Learning in the state of Washington from 2015 to the present day.
Learn more about and join the SEL for Washington Coalition, a grassroots coalition of members who educate about and advocate for access to Social and Emotional Learning and skill development in Washington public schools.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning. CASEL supports educators and policy leaders and enhances the experiences and outcomes for all PreK-12 students.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Solutions at AIR offers an approach to keep social and emotional learning at the center of students’ educational experiences by collaborating with district and school staff to create conditions such as leadership, engagement, measurement, and coaching and support necessary to promote the skills students need to master academic content and enhance their well-being.
Founded in 1979, the Committee for Children has been helping children learn, grow, and thrive. Committee for Children believe that if you make a positive impact on enough children through social-emotional learning, then the ripples will help a family, a school, a community, and ultimately, the world.
Laura L. Feuerborn, PhD, NCSP, is Professor in the School of Education at the University of Washington Tacoma. In her book, Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom (Second Edition) she promotes mental health and academic success with a practice guide to plan and implement social and emotional learning (SEL) in K–12 classrooms and schools through programs and strategies.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) provides a list of recommended books and volumes on social and emotional learning selected by CASEL staff to provide a breadth and depth of coverage of the field.
The Social Emotional Learning and Equity page from National Equity Project emphasizes the importance of understanding that all learning is social and emotional and all learning is mediated by relationships that sit in a sociopolitical, racialized context – for all children, not just those who are black and brown. To build equity consciousness and capacity, the National Equity Project recommends creating significant time for professional learning, reflection, and collaboration so that educators have regular opportunities to increase self-awareness, trust, and more. This resource provides pitfalls and recommendations.
The Racial Healing Handbook by Anneliese A. Singh is a book about practical activities to help you challenge privilege, confront systemic racism, and engage in collective healing. Healing from racism is a journey that often involves reliving trauma and experiencing feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety. This journey can be a bumpy ride, and before we begin healing, we need to gain an understanding of the role history plays in racial/ethnic myths and stereotypes. In so many ways, to heal from racism, you must re-educate yourself and unlearn the processes of racism. This book can help guide you.
Let’s Talk! is a teaching tolerance guide discussing race, racism, and other difficult topics with students. Learning how to communicate about such topics as white privilege, police violence, economic inequality and mass incarceration requires practice, and facilitating difficult conversations demands courage and skill—regardless of who we are, our intentions or how long we’ve been teaching. Use the strategies in this resource as you prepare to facilitate difficult conversations about race and racism. You can also use them to build competency when discussing other types of discrimination.
The article “Why We Can't Afford Whitewashed Social-Emotional Learning” by Dena Simmons shares that students need the skills to navigate unjust realities. Youth are growing up in an increasingly complex world. Social-emotional learning (SEL) skills can help us build communities that foster courageous conversations across differences so that our students can confront injustice, hate, and inequity.
Tacoma Public Library offers a list of Social and Emotional Learning books to help educators, parents, caregivers, and students thrive. Narrow down your options by age/grade, topics, and more to find just what you need to incorporate into your work or life.
Ruby Bridges Goes to School - The True Story
Separate is Never Equal - Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
We are Grateful
Young Water Protectors...A Story about Standing Rock
My Family Divided
Brown Boy Brown Boy What Can You Be?
I Am Not a Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
Shining Star - The Anna May Wong Story
Little Leaders - Bold Women in Black History
Let It Shine - Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters
Something Happened in Our Town
Twice Toward Justice
As Fast as Words Could Fly
The Stone Thrower, by Jael Ealey Richardson (Ages 4-9)
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years
I am Every Good Thing
The Color Monster
Tough Guys (have Feelings Too)
Why Do We Cry?
Ruby Finds a Worry
The Invisible Boy
Meeting summaries and Resources
Presentation Isabela Reed, Community Engagement Manager & Phoebe Sunflower Wirth, Bilingual Education Coordinator, KBTC Public Television