May 21st, 2020

Barriers to SEL Work: Present and Past

Mindsets and Money - Do we allocate resources in education to support the whole child and why or why not? Having worked across district, exam, and charters schools the themes of mindset and budget have come up repeatedly as facilitators or barriers. If school leaders have a vision and commitment to SEL they will leverage their staff and create the momentum to attempt to carry it out. Experienced leaders will also tap trainings and hire people who can help them iterate their vision, which is often a hybrid of educator and clinical skills. Where there is a will, there is a way. Leaders who understand that SEL and supporting student's emotional health is essential to academics and for children to be their best selves, will then work to allocate their money towards staff, materials, and development to support this. Even a principal with the slimmest of budgets will find a community partner, a non-profit, write a grant to get their students what they need to support their needs.
Re: Mindset, the time is now to lift up and elevate what we know to be true and is being born out with a vengeance during this crisis - relationship & resiliency are essential and SEL is a powerful conduit for social-emotional health promotion. Let's back-up shifting mindsets by gathering data from schools who have strong SEL programming and link it to engagement in distance-learning.
Re: Money, I don't have the intricate knowledge of CA budgets, but how can we decrease stress on individual principals/districts who want to implement SEL, but don't feel like they can do so without push back? Can Prop 63 be leveraged in more effective ways?
Positive change in history can come after major upheaval, let's break down barriers and do right by our students who need us to be bold and seek change.

Tags: equity, leadership, SEL Policy

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Comments (6)

Comments (6)

Soundhari, my mind is blown. Your statements are so profound. The benefits of SEL surpass the cost. I feel that we need to seize this opportunity and change the aspects in education and society that were not working.

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Great observations, Soundhari. There's a saying...show me your budget and I'll tell you what your priorities are. Time to make SEL a priority!

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Amy, that saying is extremely true. I am hopeful that this Pandemic will assist in changing people's views on what is important. In March, education went on emergency mode. Our first instinct was to make sure we connected with students, staff and families. We secured safety and then we made sure students were equipped with technology for distance learning. SEL is a requirement for any kind of success.

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#decisionfatigue is so very real.

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Soundhari,
I think we can also focus on the fact that schools will have a very small window of time in which to get these things done. Districts have not yet come to a final decision on what the upcoming year will look like. Some schools cannot afford to 'put all their eggs in one basket' and will have a short window for 'action'. A misuse of funds or misread of community needs can be all the difference between success and failure. I see the 'will' is there, but the time for 'way' will be short and the direction can be uncertain in these unprecedented times.

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Too true, with information being updated daily about what's important for our children and society as a whole in terms of physical and emotional wellness, making decisions during this time is complex (#decisionfatigue). However, whether we return to school buildings, enact hybrid models, or return to SIP there are certain resources we know will need to be in place to support student/staff SEL and mental health.

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