Social and Emotional Learning Challenge

About the SEL Challenge

WHAT IS THE SEL CHALLENGE?

The Social and Emotional Learning Challenge was designed to:
  1. identify promising practices for building SEL skills with vulnerable adolescents and
  2. develop a method for taking these practices to scale in thousands of out-of-school time (OST) settings. 
The promising practices are called standards for SEL practice and the method is called the SEL Strengths Builder. The Challenge was a partnership between expert practitioners (youth workers, social workers, teachers) delivering exemplary programs in eight unique communities, a team of researchers, and a national funder. 
 
The findings are published in the Field Guide, Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social & Emotional Learning, currently available for download at the SELPractices.org. A Technical Report describing the SEL Challenge method and additional findings is also available for download at SELPractices.org.

WHICH SEL PRACTICES WERE STUDIED?

The SEL practices that were the focus of the Challenge were organized around adolescent skill growth in six areas: emotion management, empathy, teamwork, responsibility, initiative, and problem solving. 

WHAT DOES THE FIELD GUIDE SHOW?

The Field Guide presents 32 standards and 76 practice indicators in the six areas of SEL practice and four additional curriculum features. Each practice indicator is accompanied by multiple real-world examples. Case studies are also presented for each of the eight exemplary programs.

HOW DO I LEARN MORE?

There are several points of entry for learning more about the SEL Challenge and the standards for SEL practice:

WHAT IS AVAILABLE NOW?

We view the growing focus on social and emotional skills in out-of-school time settings as a long-term process. Right now, there are three explicit pathways into the SEL Challenge content. Download detailed descriptions of each of these pathways here.

WHAT COMES NEXT?

 
Over the next year, three in-depth trainings on SEL Practices will be added to the Weikart Center’s Youth Work Methods training content, as well as automated performance reporting capacity on the Online Scores Reporter.
 
 

How do I move forward…?

PATHWAY 1 - OPEN ACCESS

The open access pathway is designed to provide users with a light supports to start working on the SEL strengths of their program. 
 
The Field Guide, Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practice for Social and Emotional Learning is available for free download at SELpractices.org and print copies are available for purchase at Store.cypq.org
 
Visit SELpractices.org to interact with a learning community of program staff and managers who are engaged in SEL.
 
Use the SEL Strengths Builder Method to reflect on how well your program supports the growth and development of youth’s Social and emotional skills. The Strengths Builder content is available at SELpractices.org
 
Read the SEL Challenge Technical Report and guidance on the use of SEL Measures. Both are available for download at SELpractices.org. Technical Report available March 1.

PATHWAY 2 - INDIVIDUAL DESIGNS

The Individual Designs pathway includes light training and technical assistance focused on bringing teams at one or more program sites through a professional learning experience focused on SEL curriculum design and implementation. Read guidance on implementation here.
 
Order an SEL Challenge Box Set at Store.cypq.org. This box set includes both hard copy materials sent to the user and a set of online and phone supports to improve or strengthen your program’s focus on social and emotional learning. 
 
Host a Push SEL Practice workshop for your program. This training is ideal as an introduction to SEL for program staff and leaders. It can be a first step to launching an SEL initiative, and is designed to have participants:
  • Familiarize themselves with the content of the Field Guide with an intensive focus on up to two of the six domains that resonate most with their program goals;
  • Assess their current or planned curriculum design(s) by comparing their SEL curriculum against the standards and case studies;
  • Assess their implementation of SEL practice standards;
  • Reflect on how to integrate SEL into their continuous improvement approach. It is designed to:
Workshops can be customized to ¼, ½ and full day events, and will be tailored to fit your target audience. Let us know you’re interested by filling out the form here.

PATHWAY 3 - SYSTEM DESIGNS

The Weikart Center specializes in building quality improvement systems at scale and these systems can include a focus on SEL practices and skills. To learn more about system designs, reach out to us here

… if I am a Weikart Center client?

To learn how the SEL Challenge can become a part of your system’s quality improvement system, contact your project manager at the Weikart Center. Ask about:
  • Extending/updating your QIS with the Strengths Builder, SEL measures and/or Push SEL Practice workshops; See a logic model of a QIS/YPQQI focused on SEL here.
  • Piloting an SEL Challenge with a group of sites using the SEL Challenge Box Set to guide a learning community.

In winter 2016, three new Youth Work Methods Guidebooks will be available, with an SEL update certification for the Youth Work Methods Training of Trainers. The methods are:

  • Stronger Together – Empathy and Teamwork
  • Individual Goals and Roles – Initiative and Responsibility
  • Engaging Executive Function – Emotion Management and Problem Solving

…if I am an evaluator of youth programs?

Read the SEL Challenge Technical Report and guidance on the use of SEL measures. Both are available for download at SELpractices.org. Technical Report available in March.

About Social and Emotional Skills

WHAT IS SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL)?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary 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.” 
 
In the SEL Challenge, we focused on describing the practices that experts use to help vulnerable adolescents grow social and emotional skills in out-of-school time programs.

WHAT ARE OUT-OF-SCHOOL (OST) TIME PROGRAMS?

The term out-of-school time is used to refer to settings variously labeled afterschool, expanded learning, extracurricular clubs, summer camps, and sports; many mentoring, tutoring, apprenticeship, and workforce development programs; programs for disconnected and homeless youth; and some alternative schools. OST programs are not the only settings where social and emotional skills can be learned, but they are well suited for this purpose.

WHY DO SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS MATTER IN OST PROGRAMS FOR VULNERABLE ADOLESCENTS?

Research has linked social and emotional skills to success in school and the workforce and overall wellbeing. While these skills can be taught and learned, too many youth today aren’t getting exposure to the learning and experiences they need to develop them—especially disadvantaged youth. OST programs provide youth a perfect opportunity to learn and apply these skills. 
 

Our SEL Challenge partner, Susan Crown Exchange (SCE), is a social investment organization that connects talent and innovation with market forces to drive social change. 


Updates

April 6, 2016 | Presentation | University of Minnesota | Register Now! | Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices in Social and Emotional Learning

March 29-31, 2016 | Presentation | Ready by 21 National Meeting | Register Now!

January 27, 2015 3:00 PM | Webinar Recording | Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices for Social & Emotional Learning 

November 14, 2015 | Presentation | American Evaluation Association | Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills and Self-Beliefs: Current Work, Promising Approaches, and Future Directions

September 14, 2015 | Article | Youth Today | Using Online App to Implement Each One Teach One

July 21, 2015 | Article | Youth Today | How to Build Safe Spaces: Define, Then Deliver

April 1, 2014 | Presentation | Ready by 21 National Meeting | Decoding the art of practice: What works in Social and Emotional Learning? 

March 9, 2015 | Presentation | National Afterschool Association | Social and Emotional Learning Convening: Continuing the Conversation 

October 6, 2014 | Blog entry | Decoding the art of practice: An update on the SEL Challenge