Supporting our Principals: A Key Element in Creating Caring, Supportive Schools 

By Mark T. Greenberg Ph.D.Emeritus Bennett Chair of Prevention Science, Penn State University, Chair of CREATE (

While SEL has been a key issue for over a decade, with the advent of Covid-19, many schools around the world are now actively implementing SEL programs and policies to improve outcomes for children. It is clear that principals/head teachers are a key element in successfully implementing and sustaining effective SEL programs and policies.  Yet, often principals are the last person in the building to receive SEL consulting and support….and principals, themselves are struggling with their own social-emotional needs.

Numerous recent reports show the concerns, needs and vulnerabilities of principals.48% of principals say they are under great stress several days a week.About 20% of principals leave their school each year, and turnover is higher in high-poverty schools.45% of principals report that they are considering leaving the profession.

During this time of change and renewal, it is essential that we consider how to support our leaders as well as help them to reshape schools so that social and emotional learning is a key component of practice and policy.  Effective leadership support is essential for effective SEL implementation and sustainable systems change.

To learn more about the needs of principals and how to support systematic SEL, read our policy brief and the excellent series of blogs by Dr Leslie Murrihy in New Zealand.


leadership, principals, SEL, social and emotional learning

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