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Safe Schools

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Learning/Health

Published: 10/4/2021 1:04 PM

​​What is Social and Emotional Learning? 

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities. (CASEL: What is SEL?)

Why is promoting SEL and mental health critical for schools?

SEL Impact and Supporting Research

High School Students Perspectives on SEL: Respected

What Skills Do Socially and Emotionally Competent People Have?

Overview of SEL Components – Short Video Series:

How do we get started?

Build Staff and Organizational Social Emotional Skills and Supports

Resources for Promoting Equity

Including Voice in Education: Addressing Equity through Student and Family Voice in the Classroom - Guide from Institute of Education Sciences and REL Pacific

The National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) at University of Maryland’s select resources on cultural responsiveness and equity for schools, mental health providers, communities, families, and students.

Greater Good in Education provides:

  • Key Readings from Black Educator-Leaders and Other Leaders of Color
  • Resources to Support the Mental Health and Well-Being of Black Educators
  • Practices for Students and Teachers

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) educator guide for addressing race and trauma in the classroom offers recommendations for creating and supporting safe and brave environments, modeling honesty and authenticity, honoring the impacts of history and systemic racism, and encouraging and empowering students as leaders.

Social, Emotional, and Academic Development Through an Equity Lens provides a framework and action items to address adult beliefs and mindsets as well as school and district policies to build relationships and create equitable learning environments that support positive social and emotional growth.

Committee for Children

GLSEN Educator Resources

Collaborate with Students
Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools for Using Student Perspectives and Local Data for School Improvement

Youth Engagement Toolkit

CASEL Tool Supporting Student Members of the SEL Team

Other Free Activity Banks and Evidence-based/informed Curricula

Kernels of Practice for SEL; Low Cost, Low Burden Strategies

Nurturing Gratitude from the Inside Out - 30 activities for grades K-8

Thanks! A Strengths-Based Gratitude Curriculum for Tweens and Teens - Four lessons to help students understand the meaning of gratitude and how to cultivate it in their everyday lives.

 A Kindness Curriculum Pre-K - Mindfulness-based curriculum explores how students recognize and work with their emotions, learning to care for others and themselves.

Sanford Harmony - A program for Pre-K-6 grade students designed to foster inter-gender communication and understanding, connection, and community both in and outside the classroom and develop boys and girls into compassionate and caring adults.

15 Activities for Teaching CASEL Core Competencies

InspirED - free resources, designed by teens, educators, and SEL experts, empower students to work together to create more positive school climates and foster greater wellbeing in their schools and communities. 

Making SEL More Relevant to Teens - offers social and emotional learning activities that are designed to address high school students’ need for status and respect.

Purpose Challenge Toolkit is designed to help students think deeply about the things that matter most to them through thought provoking and fun activities.

Greater Good in Education - free online resource that distills strategies and practices for the social, emotional, and ethical development of students and the adults who work with them, synthesizing the top insights and best practices from science, programs, and practitioners.

The Science of Happiness Podcast - offers research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life.

The CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL Essentials - a printable compilation of key activities and tools that leads school-based teams through a process for systemic SEL implementation. This printable summary offers a compact set of essential tools for use during professional learning or as a quick reference for coaches and SEL team leaders.

Transforming Education Trauma-Informed SEL Toolkit - offers strengths-based strategies teachers can integrate into their classroom, an overview of secondary traumatic stress and strategies for educator self-care, and a step-by-step facilitator’s guide for implementing a thorough professional development session designed to help educators create a healthy classroom environment for students.

60-Second Strategies for Implementing Aspects of SEL in the Classroom

Pom-Pom Jar

Participation Cards

SLANT Listening

Cooperative Learning Groups

Traverse Talk

Appreciation, Apology, Aha!

Stress Snowball Toss

Program and Intervention Clearinghouse Sites

Navigate the Complex Field of Social and Emotional Learning - By Harvard University

CASEL Program Guides

What Works Clearinghouse

School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation System (SHAPE) Resource Center

The Wallace Foundation Knowledge Center: Social and Emotional Learning

EdSurge - Social-Emotional Learning Voices

Integrating Social and Emotional Learning throughout the School System - a compendium of resources for district leaders

School Mental Health, Trauma-Informed Practices, and Crisis Recovery

Interconnected Systems Framework – builds system capacity and improves student outcomes by integrating school mental health into a single MTSS for academics, behavior and wellbeing (see also kyMTSS.org)

School Mental Health Resources by Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network (MHTTC) provides free National School Mental Health Best Practices: Implementation Guidance Modules developed in partnership with the National Center for School Mental Health, as well as tools, trainings, best practices, and technical assistance for states, districts, and schools.

The National Center for School Mental Health

The School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) system houses the National School Mental Health Profile and the School Mental Health Quality Assessment (SMH-QA). These measures are designed for team completion at the school or district level to document the school mental health system components, assess the comprehensiveness of a SMH system, prioritize quality improvement efforts and track improvement over time. SHAPE Quality Guides cover topics of: TeamingNeeds Assessment and Resource MappingScreeningMH Promotion Services and Supports (Tier 1)Early Intervention & Treatment (Tiers 2 & 3)Funding and Sustainability and Impact

School Crisis Recovery and Renewal Project supports students, educators, school staff, and school-based clinicians to effectively implement trauma-informed crisis recovery and renewal strategies.

Coalition to Support Grieving Students offers information, training materials, consultation, and technical assistance. Consultation is provided at no charge to schools.

Find Help Now KY - find addiction treatment openings in your area.

Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services Division of Behavioral Health

Trauma - Sensitive Schools Training Package - National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments

Ready, Set, Go, Review: Screening for Behavioral Health Risk in Schools is a federally developed toolkit in the SAMHSA Evidence-Based Practice Resource Center that includes a Kentucky district example.

Strengthening Relationships in a Virtual Environment

7 Ways to Maintain Relationships during School Closure

5-Minute Chats with Students 

Virtual SEL Activities Examples Brief

Building Relationships with Your Students - Quick activities from Milwaukee Public Schools PBIS

Adapting Check-in, Check-out for Distance Learning

Related Trainings and Programs Available Free through Kentucky Department of Education Initiatives

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Sources of Strength

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Olweus Bullying Prevention

You Are Not Alone - KET collection of videos and discussion materials on youth mental health


​Kathryn Tillett
Office of Continuous Improvement and Support
Division of Student Success
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-4772 
Fax (502) 564-7820

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