To Achieve Caring, Supportive Schools the Principal’s SEL Matters

Many schools are now actively implementing social and emotional learning programs and policies to improve outcomes for children.  However, schools often do not take the time to plan SEL implementation effectively and thus do not achieve their goal. During this time of change and renewal, it is essential that leaders deeply consider how to reshape schools so that social and emotional learning is a key component of practice and policy.  Effective staff and teacher training are essential for effective SEL implementation and sustainable systems change.

At the building level, a principal’s active support for implementation of SEL programming is essential for success and sustained use. Effective principals provide support in a variety of ways, including:

  • communicating a shared vision for SEL
  • allocating resources as needed
  • modeling the skills and attitudes with students and staff
  • observing classroom curricula
  • communicating common goals
  • supporting collaboration and participation by families and out-of-school providers,
  • supporting teacher’s own social and emotional competence, and
  • creating a sense of community and caring, positive school climate.

In order to provide this support, principals themselves must be knowledgeable about evidence-based SEL models, and how to effectively provide the skills discussed above. However, similar to teachers, principals generally receive little or no training or mentoring in how to create a caring, supportive school environment in which SEL is infused throughout the school. To learn more about the needs of principals and how to support systematic SEL, read our policy brief.   Also, excellent briefs in New Zealand by Dr. Leslie Murrihy

CREATE provides in-depth support for principal's own resilience and leadership in SEL. Learn more here.


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