In this current climate, equity is an issue that has been a frequent topic of conversation and has caused many individuals and institutions to do some self-reflection. Tackling equity can feel overwhelming, leaving educators unsure of where or how to begin this important work. CASEL has recently published a document that guides schools to utilize a tool that they already have in their back pockets: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) instruction. The document is called, Advancing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as a Lever for Equity and Excellence (August 2020). The authors purport that by implementing universal SEL instruction both students and adults will develop the skills necessary to foster cross-cultural relationships, reflect on and analyze the impact of racism and other forms of inequitable treatment, and become more self-aware. This document is structured around the following five insights:

  1. Explicitly position and communicate about SEL as a lever for equity
  2. Prioritize adult learning and critical reflection about their own social, emotional, and cultural competencies
  3. Elevate students’ cultural assets, voice, and agency
  4. Partner authentically with families and communities to develop culturally responsive approaches to SEL
  5. Establish SEL data strategies that help to share power, dismantle inequities, and build more equitable learning environments

If you’re feeling a bit like this owl and you just want to dip your toes in to see how the water feels, you may consider starting with these SEL self-assessment rubrics from CASEL. Taking these with your leadership team will help you get an understanding of what SEL supports are currently in place and can assist in determining logical next steps.