Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Work When Schools Are Open or Closed

Free Online Event: Social-Emotional Learning

Making It Work When Schools Are Open or Closed

Download a PDF of the key takeaways

Nearly every student in the United States is out of school this spring, shut out of their traditional schools and classrooms for a prolonged period to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. It’s an unprecedented disruption of academic routines—with a high-risk of profound learning losses. It’s also a troubling disruption to the norms of teaching social-emotional learning skills such as managing emotions and resiliency at a time when children will need it the most.

Even with prevalent support for teaching social-emotional learning and a growing understanding of how deeply intertwined skills like building healthy peer relationships and responsible decision making are with academic success, there are big challenges when it comes to the reality of teaching SEL on a grand scale when times are normal. But these are not normal times, so what can schools do to keep social-emotional learning going when the kids are at home and the educators are too?

In this online summit, Education Week reporters and expert guests discuss the kinds of preparation and support teachers need to develop students' social-emotional skills both in regular classrooms and virtual interactions, what districts leaders can do to support schools' efforts to implement SEL when schools are open and when students are learning at home, and how educators can make good decisions about SEL curricula and programs that fit the needs of their students, teachers, and families.

Get your questions answered Tuesday, April 14, 2020, from 1-3 p.m. ET*, and join a deep dive on how to make social-emotional learning work in your school, whether the learning is in-person or virtual.

Thank you to those who joined us for this event, which took place on April 14, 2020.


April 14, 2020
1-3 p.m. ET*

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  • 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET | Discussions Open
    Education Week journalists and their special guests provide practical takeaways about making social-emotional learning work for schools, teachers, and students.

    Room 1: What Does Social-Emotional Learning Look Like in High School?
    Moderator: Arianna Prothero, Staff Writer, Education Week
    ‣ Many educators see SEL as something that’s best suited for the elementary grades. But experts say high school—when students are dealing with a combustible mix of issues such as increased rates of depression, exposure to drugs and alcohol, and uncertainty about their futures—is a critical time for schools to promote and teach social emotional skills.
    Christina Rodriguez, Administrative Intern, Dallas Independent School District (ISD)
    Juany Valdespino-Gaytán, Executive Director of Engagement Services, Dallas Independent School District

    Room 2: Superintendents. Principals. Teachers. How These Key Players View Social-Emotional Learning in Schools
    Moderator/Guest: Holly Kurtz, Director, Education Week Research Center
    ‣ The Education Week Research Center shares results from its national survey of district leaders, principals, and teachers on their attitudes about social-emotional learning and what they see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for wide adoption and practice of SEL in schools.

    Room 3: How Can Teachers Keep SEL Going When Students Aren't in School?
    Moderator: Evie Blad, Staff Writer, Education Week
    ‣ Students need strong coping skills more than ever as they deal with massive upheaval to their educations and daily lives. How can educators help students adjust to this new reality and foster their social-emotional skills when they aren’t in class together? Two experts discuss which SEL skills schools should be focusing on for students and how teachers can do that work in a remote environment.
    Rose Prejean-Harris, Director of Social-Emotional Learning, Atlanta Public Schools
    Marc Brackett, Founder and Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; Professor, Child Study Center, Yale University

    Room 4: Social-Emotional Learning and Curriculum: How to Make Smart Choices for Your Schools
    Moderator: Catherine Gewertz, Senior Contributing Writer, Education Week
    ‣ As SEL has caught on and more schools are embracing it, principals especially say a formal curriculum or program is essential for success. With so many programs available, how can district and school leaders make sense of the market and make the smartest choices for the needs of their students, teachers, and families?
    Guest: Alexandra Skoog-Hoffman, Director of Research-Practice Partnerships, CASEL

    Room 5: Making Social-Emotional Learning Manageable for Teachers: It’s All About PD
    Moderator: Madeline Will, Staff Writer, Education Week
    ‣ There’s a big gap between educators’ desire to teach SEL in schools and their ability and skills to do it well. Much of that gap, experts and advocates agree, stems from too little professional development for teachers already working in schools and little to no curriculum in teacher-preparation programs. What can schools do to ensure that teachers know how to incorporate the teaching of SEL skills into their everyday classroom practice?
    Pamela Lathrop, Principal, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, Mass.
    Julie Carter, Social Emotional Learning Behavior Coach, North East Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas

    Room 6: Grounding Social Emotional Learning in Cultural Assets
    Gabriela López, Senior Manager, Learning Measurement, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    Luis Ornelas, Whole Child Program Associate, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    ‣ Deeply transformative social emotional learning (SEL) work needs to be embedded in schools in order to create safe learning environments for students. One way to embed SEL practices in schools is through adult professional development. When serving students from historically marginalized backgrounds, educators must see their students’ cultural and racial identities as assets when developing SEL and academic competencies and skills. In our discussion, we’ll explore how Tucson Unified School District and Black Teacher Collaborative are helping educators create environments that build on their students’ racial and cultural assets.
    Norma Gonzales, Program Coordinator, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Instruction, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, Ariz.
    Hiewet Senghor, Founder & CEO, Black Teacher Collaborative

    Room 7: Adult Social-Emotional Learning and the Power of Collective Efficacy
    Moderator: Matt Pearsall, Community Manager, Committee for Children
    ‣ What factors do you think affect student achievement most?
    • Motivation?
    • Parental involvement?
    • Prior achievement?
    Research shows that collective efficacy—the shared belief that together school staff can achieve goals and overcome challenges to positively affect student learning—is the greatest factor affecting student achievement. There are many ways to build collective efficacy among school staff, but it starts with supporting educators’ and leaders’ social-emotional well-being. In this conversation, learn more about the drivers behind and strategies for building collective efficacy in your school from Committee for Children, the creators of Second Step SEL.
    Mylien Duong, Senior Research Scientist, Committee for Children, and Affiliate Assistant Professor, University of Washington
    Tammy Fisher, School Counselor, Adjunct Professor, Author, and Instructional Coach

    Room 8: Building Awareness of Adult SEL Competence and Its Impact on Teaching and Learning

    ‣ Develop awareness, recognition, and understanding of the social and emotional competencies of cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control, and how those competencies contribute to fostering SEL skills in student communities. Explore how to strengthen social and emotional competence through skill development, deepen understanding of and appreciation for the difference between social competence and emotional competence. Explore approaches to effectively teach social and emotional competencies to students and establish their importance in school communities.
    Ellie Cornecelli, Lead Program Developer, Center for Responsive Schools
    Anjail Kenyatta, Lead Program Developer, Center for Responsive Schools
    Jazmine Tavenner, Director of Programs, Center for Responsive Schools

    Room 9: Teaching Academic and Social Skills Through Response to Intervention

    ‣ Join the authors of Behavior Solutions who have identified research-based processes to create a three-tiered system of supports to help boost student metacognition and create an action plan for meeting students’ psychological needs.
    Austin Buffum, Author
    Jessica Djabrayan Hannigan, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership Department, California State University, Fresno
    John Hannigan, Executive Leadership Coach for the Superintendent of Schoos, Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, Calif.
    Mike Mattos, Author, Presenter, Practitioner

    Room 10: The Secret of SEL: Learning Experiences That Intrinsically Motivate Students

    Moderator: Shawn Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Classcraft
    ‣ With many schools suddenly shifting to remote learning, social-emotional learning matters now more than ever. Students face an entirely new set of SEL challenges as they adjust to learning at home, and teachers must find new ways to provide support.
    Join this discussion to learn why promoting students’ SEL growth starts with being able to intrinsically motivate students—online or in the classroom. We’ll also discuss how educators can combine experiential approaches to SEL with curriculum to develop and assess student progress toward SEL goals.
    Kimberly Harrington Markus, Executive Director of Innovation, Mount Olive Township School District, Morris County, N.J., and former Commissioner of Education, New Jersey Department of Education

  • 2:30–3:00 p.m. ET | Final Reporter Wrap-up
    Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Work When Schools Are Open or Closed—In Conversation With Education Week
    The Education Week newsroom will close out the day with insights from the discussions they’ve had with you, the readers.

Guests, Speakers, and Moderators

Evie Blad
Staff Writer, Education Week

Blad is a reporter for Education Week who covers education policy and politics at the state and national levels, including those who make, implement, and influence that policy. Before coming to Education Week in 2013, she was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where she covered K-12 education at the state and local levels, higher education, as well as health issues.

Marc Brackett
Founder and Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; Professor, Child Study Center, Yale University

Brackett is the lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by nearly 2,000 pre-K through high schools across the United States and in other countries. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Julie Carter
Social Emotional Learning Behavior Coach, North East Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas

Carter is a social emotional learning behavior coach for the North East Independent School District in San Antonio. She previously was a special education teacher who worked with students with behavioral needs.

Catherine Gewertz
Senior Contributing Writer, Education Week

Gewertz covers curriculum and instruction. In recognition of her expert reporting on assessment, the National Council on Measurement in Education named her the winner of its 2019 award for Excellence in Public Communication. Since joining Education Week in 1999, Gewertz has been the lead reporter on the common core and assessment and has covered urban schools. Previously, she was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times and United Press International.

Holly Kurtz
Director, Education Week Research Center

Kurtz directs the Education Week Research Center, which produces standalone studies as well as analyses for Education Week and special reports such as Quality Counts. She spent 11 years covering education and other topics for newspapers in Florida, Alabama, and Colorado. The Education Week Research Center also produces customized studies and analyses for a range of clients, including professional associations and leading companies in the field of education.

Pamela Lathrop
Principal, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, Mass.

Lathrop is currently an elementary school principal in Andover, Mass., and has been in the role of a principal for 19 years. Prior to that time, she was an elementary school teacher for 12 years, teaching grades 1, 2, and 5. She has a certificate in social-emotional learning from Williams and James College. Currently, Lathrop serves as the co-chair of her districts SEL committee and co-teaches a professional development class for her school district: “SEL and trauma informed practices.”

Rose Prejean-Harris
Director of Social-Emotional Learning, Atlanta Public Schools

Prejean-Harris began her teaching career as a middle and high school science teacher in New Orleans, Dallas, and Atlanta before transitioning to a high school counselor and then assistant principal in DeKalb County Schools. Dekalb, Ga. Most recently, she was the principal of Gainesville Middle School in Gainesville, Ga.

Arianna Prothero
Staff Writer, Education Week

Prothero covers student well-being and student engagement and motivation for Education Week. She delves into all facets that impact a child’s potential for success in school and beyond, including social-emotional learning, physical health, mental health, nutrition, housing and environmental factors such as family and economic stability and exposure to trauma and violence. Prothero formally worked as a radio reporter, anchor, and producer at WLRN, the NPR affiliate in Miami.

Christina Rodriguez
Administrative Intern, Dallas Independent School District (ISD)

Rodriguez has taught in Dallas, Fort Worth, Peru, and Ecuador. She currently serves as an Administrative Intern in Dallas ISD and teaches advance placement world history at Sunset High School. She is part of Dallas ISD’s first cohort in the Texas Principal Leadership Academy through the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary area of focus has been social-emotional learning applications in high schools.

Alexandra Skoog-Hoffman
Director of Research-Practice Partnerships, CASEL

Skoog-Hoffman leads research-practice partnerships at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, supporting the organization’s partner districts in implementing social-emotional learning systems and using data to monitor their impact.

Juany Valdespino-Gaytán
Executive Director of Engagement Services, Dallas Independent School District

Valdespino-Gaytán has experienced various roles in education, including serving as a bilingual teacher, a principal, vice-president for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, director of early childhood, and as an executive director of SEL and counseling just prior to her current role.

Madeline Will
Staff Writer, Education Week

Will is a reporter for Education Week who covers the teaching profession. She joined the staff in 2016, initially as the assistant editor for Education Week Teacher, a section dedicated to the firsthand perspectives of teachers. Before joining Education Week, Madeline was the publications fellow for a legal nonprofit, the Student Press Law Center. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science.

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