Cover: Jointly Prioritizing Time for Social and Emotional Learning In Denver

Jointly Prioritizing Time for Social and Emotional Learning In Denver

One of Six Case Studies of Schools and Out-of-School-Time Program Partners (Volume 2, Part 4)

Published Sep 15, 2022

by Andrea Prado Tuma, Catherine H. Augustine, Heather L. Schwartz

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Research Questions

  1. What are the benefits of school and 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.

According to the Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning, 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 Denver's Cowell Elementary School and its out-of-school-time (OST) partner, Discovery Link, worked together to find time for SEL and to provide consistent SEL instruction during and after school.

Explicit SEL instruction became increasingly more frequent over three years, and a large majority of school and OST instructors used the intended SEL rituals. The school and OST program identified protected time for SEL instruction in each of their schedules. The school and OST program created a strong partnership that included staff from both organizations in decisionmaking about the implementation of SEL. School and OST program staff developed common goals and shared terminology about SEL.

Key Findings

  • Explicitly including SEL lessons in school and OST program schedules resulted in more frequent SEL instruction.
  • Gathering and listening to teacher feedback led to scheduling an SEL block that worked for teachers.
  • Incorporating the use of short SEL rituals into daily routines (e.g., starting class with a warm welcome) and in events (such as celebrating the use of SEL competencies at a sitewide assembly) increased the delivery of SEL instruction throughout the day.
  • Jointly creating goals and defining terminology facilitated consistent SEL instruction during both the school and afterschool day.
  • Co-locating the school based SEL lead and the OST program director in a classroom improved logistics and coordination on SEL.
  • Paying school and OST program staff to attend joint SEL training improved consistency of SEL approaches.

Research conducted by

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

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