Cover: Expanding Social and Emotional Learning Beyond the School Walls in Boston

Expanding Social and Emotional Learning Beyond the School Walls in Boston

One of Six Case Studies of Schools and Out-of-School-Time Program Partners (Volume 2, Part 2)

Published Sep 15, 2022

by Katie Tosh, Catherine H. Augustine, Heather L. Schwartz


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Research Questions

  1. What are the benefits of school and out-of-school-time (OST) program partnerships that focus on SEL?
  2. What approaches to implementing SEL are useful?

The Wallace Foundation's Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative is a six-year initiative that The Wallace Foundation launched in 2017 to explore whether and how children benefit when schools and their out-of-school-time programs partner to improve social and emotional learning (SEL), as well as what it takes to do this work.

SEL is “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” This case study explores how the Russell Elementary School and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD) partnered in Boston to provide SEL enrichment off campus as part of the school day.

The Russell and BGCD built a brand-new partnership centered on an innovative yet complex model of delivering SEL-infused enrichment to students off campus during the school day. The partnership weathered start-up hurdles and then a complete disruption of the model due to the pandemic but came out on the other side with a reinforced commitment to SEL. The Russell and BGCD both used the MindUp curriculum, which established how teachers and SEL instructors would teach SEL in terms of the specific language and practices used, providing a consistent SEL learning experience for students.

Key Findings

  • Weekly and sometimes daily communication between the committed school and OST program leaders helped solve problems in real time.
  • Attending joint meetings and observing each other's classrooms increased teacher and staff buy-in and established trusting relationships.
  • Working from the same formal, written SEL resources created consistency across the two settings. Gaining autonomy over how to incorporate SEL into activities increased staff buy-in and ownership greatly.
  • Coaching from the school district and OST intermediary facilitated SEL implementation in each setting and focused on the same topics in both places.

Research conducted by

This research was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

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