Reimagining the Role of the Superintendent… Dr. Susan Enfield

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Reimagining the Role of the Superintendent… Dr. Susan Enfield

By Jill Siler, Gunter ISD Superintendent and #NCE20 Conference Blogger

This month’s blog series have focused on women in the superintendency. Inspired by the March edition of AASA’s School Administrator magazine, our first two blogs this month featured two women who were nominated for the Women in School Leadership Superintendent of the Year: Dr. LaTonya Goffney and Dr. Candace Singh. We shift our last blog to the 2020 Women in School Leadership Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Susan Enfield.

EnfieldMany educators start teaching early in their career… Dr. Susan Enfield began at the age of 7 as she transformed her play area into a makeshift school and structured meaningful lessons for her dolls and stuffed animals. That training served her well as she became a high school English and Journalism teacher and later a school improvement coach. Susan had not aspired to become a superintendent until she came across an advertisement for the Harvard Urban Superintendency Program. Susan visited Harvard and met her future mentor (Dr. Vicki Phillips) who just happened to be a guest speaking that day and knew that it was the program and the people for her.

During Susan’s doctoral program she had to serve a six-week internship with a sitting superintendent and there was no question that Susan wanted to learn under Dr. Phillips (Superintendent of Lancaster Schools, PA at the time). This internship was like no other, and Susan spent virtually every moment of those six weeks with her. She had an up close and personal seat to see the incredible impact that a superintendent can have. And when Susan graduated from Harvard, she went to work for her mentor – at first in Lancaster, and then for the state as Dr. Phillips rose to the position of Secretary of Education for Pennsylvania. Susan noted that the reason Vicki Phillips was such a prominent influence on her life was that she saw further in her than she saw in herself – and Susan is so thankful that she believed her.

Dr. Enfield would share that “you endure the job for the sake of the work,” meaning that every day she LOVES her work as it is a GIFT to serve children, but that the job also brings challenges. Susan noted that she has less and less tolerance of hypocrisy, especially when it comes to kids and equity and leaders who settle for mediocrity and the status quo.

Her advice for aspiring leaders is simple.

1)    Surround yourself with great mentors and colleagues and allow those connections to build the kind of confidence needed to take risks;

2)    Never turn down a job you haven’t yet been offered. Take a chance and be open to possibilities; and

3)    Always put health and family first. Don’t let others convince you to sacrifice for the work. Because in the end, it is not just we who suffer, but our families too! We need to sustain ourselves in the work in order to sustain the work of public education!

Dr. Enfield co-wrote one of the featured articles in the March School Administrator magazine, “Women on a Plateau in the Superintendency” and she and Dr. Kristine Gilmore close on this very topic.

“Perhaps it is time to reimagine the role of the superintendency in a way that makes it more manageable and appealing for everyone, but women in particular. For this to happen, those of us in the role today need not only to remain in our positions beyond a couple of years but also to model realistic job expectations by setting the stage for work hours, work-life balance and a family-friendly workplace.”

If there is anyone who can reimagine the role of the superintendency to set the stage for women to come, it is Dr. Enfield! A special congratulations to Dr. Susan Enfield, for being named the AASA Women in School Leadership Superintendent of the Year.

 

Dr. Susan Enfield is the superintendent of Highline Public Schools (18,000 students), south of Seattle, Washington. Susan serves as the lead superintendent for the AASA National Superintendent Certification Academy.

 

Fearless Leadership… Dr. Candace Singh

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Fearless Leadership… Dr. Candace Singh

By Jill Siler, Gunter ISD Superintendent and #NCE20 Conference Blogger

The disparity between men and women in leadership is well documented in many professions, but none quite as ironic as in education, where over 75% of classroom teachers are female and yet less than 25% of superintendents are female. This month’s School Administrator magazine dives deep into the issues around women in the superintendency and this month’s blogs are featuring 3 extraordinary leaders who were not only nominated for AASA’s Women in School Leadership Superintendent of the Year, but who are also doing incredible things for kids: Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Dr. Candace Singh and Dr. Susan Enfield.

Within the first minutes of meeting Dr. Candace Singh I could literally feel her energy and passion emanate to everyone around her! Yet her contagious enthusiasm started through humble beginnings as well. She is a first-generation college graduate who knew from a young age that she wanted to become a teacher. She was quickly tapped for leadership positions and became a principal on a high poverty campus and was relentless in turning around the educational trajectories of every student. She took that same calling to Fallbrook as a superintendent and set a clear goal to do whatever it takes to ensure that all kids achieve.

The woman who most influenced Candy is her mom. After raising her own children, she went back to college in her 40s and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in counseling. Candy got an early glimpse into the world of executive school leadership as her mom served as a 5-term school board member in two different school districts. Candy notes that no one understands board members like she does, because she grew up with one! And Candy’s mom was the best of the best – valued education and educators and was a champion for kids!

When asked the best and most challenging parts of the superintendency, the answers came in a flurry… SinghThere is such joy in learning; in the faces of our young (and not so young) learners when they come to new understandings. She loves reigniting passion in educators and hearing them remark that “I’m back to why I started teaching in the first place” as Candy has been able to incorporate problem-based learning and engage teachers in the future of the district. The challenges are just as immense - from the lack of resources to the very real challenges of trauma and social & emotional needs of students and staff. Dr. Singh noted that schools are underfunded and overburdened and that closing the gaps requires great resources. This deep passion has led her to be a staunch advocate of public schools in her state and beyond.

Her advice to future women leaders is to look to people you’d like to emulate. While there are many role models out there, the number of women superintendents are still limited. But in today’s technological world, they are visible and accessible like never before. She encourages women to “find someone close to you; someone who is a little ahead of where you are and begin to build network and connections.” She shared that those connections and network have been a powerful component of AASA’s Women Aspiring Superintendent Academy that Dr. Singh helped launch earlier this year. She shares that women often struggle with confidence and the way to build that is through slowly taking more and more responsibility and building on that success. This will lead to confidence, and combined with the connections you make, you’ll find success!

In the March School Administrator magazine, Dr. Marilou Ryder wrote “Executive Presence: What it takes to get ahead, influence others and drive results.” She noted that for years men have acquired “rapid leadership promotions over females in female-dominated professions” and when prompted on how to remedy this, Ryder notes that “women need to emulate what men have done so well in the field of education — become fearless competitors, take risks, exude confidence, sit in the front of the room and speak up to be heard.” I would encourage any aspiring or successful leader (male or female) to hitch your star to Dr. Candace Singh, because she is all that and more!

Dr. Candace Singh is the superintendent for the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (5,000 students) north of San Diego, CA. She is also currently running for AASA President-Elect.

 

Living the Dream… Dr. LaTonya Goffney

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Living the Dream… Dr. LaTonya Goffney

By Jill Siler, Gunter ISD Superintendent and #NCE20 Conference Blogger  

The March 2020 edition of AASA’s School Administrator takes a deep look into the women who lead and some of the challenges that women face getting to the top seat and staying in the top seat of school leadership. I had the great fortune to sit down with three women who are doing incredible work as superintendents; so much so that each were nominated for the AASA Women in School Leadership 2020 Superintendent of the Year. This is the first of a three-part blog series on some of the incredible women who lead across our country.

GoffneyYou can’t spend much time with Dr. LaTonya Goffney without hearing three words that sum up her view of her work and life – “Living the Dream!” Yet the reality is that LaTonya had to first survive a nightmare of a childhood. Through a loving grandmother that stepped in and showed her the power of education, LaTonya flourished in school and became a teacher and then campus leader. The superintendency wasn’t something she sought; but rather leaders approached her while she was successfully leading a middle school campus. LaTonya told her mentor that she would pray about the opportunity, and he responded, “while you’re praying, send me your cover letter and resume to me.” She eventually interviewed and not only shared her passion and purpose in this calling, but noted that as an internal candidate she would be “ready on Day 1!” She was named Lone Finalist and her career as a superintendent was launched.

LaTonya noted that a female leader who had significant impact on her was the late Susan Simpson-Hull (former superintendent of Grand Prairie ISD in TX). Dr. Hull poured into LaTonya and opened her eyes to the massive impact that a large-district superintendent could have. She admired Dr. Hull’s fiery spirit and her ability to smash through barriers for the many women leaders that would follow in her footsteps.

Dr. Goffney noted that the greatest aspect about the superintendency is to opportunity to see the manifestation of the work come to life – initiatives like her district’s dual language immersion schools – and even more importantly, the life-changing way that educators can shape the lives of students. She noted that there are challenges as well, and that many of those are societal more than school-related – yet those are the issues that schools take on to help students become better young adults. She shared that we aren’t just giving a “quality education” – we’re helping young people overcome issues that they were born into. That work is hard; the decisions are heavy; but education and educators are the game changers for so many young people.

When asked what advice LaTonya would share with women to encourage them to consider the superintendency, her message was clear: your voice is needed! So often women hesitate if they feel like there is any area they are not fully-qualified for, but LaTonya shared that women are born leaders – in their homes and in our classrooms, and there are children who need their leadership!

One of the articles featured in the March School Administrator magazine is “The Essence of a Support Network” by Dr. Kristen J. Kendrick-Weikle which talks about the relationships built among four first-time superintendents in Illinois. The article shared that:

“We respect the experiences that each of us has had and the challenges we may be facing. Our support for one another is never in question. We look out for each other and know we can count on one another for advice or just to listen when things get rough. We are not afraid to ask hard questions of each other and to ask for help and guidance.”

One of the things Dr. Goffney is known for across Texas is connecting and supporting female leaders. Not only does Texas have a thriving women’s leadership organization that focuses on equipping and mentoring, LaTonya started a private GroupMe forum for female superintendents across our state where we can do exactly what Dr. Kendrick-Weikle describes. Kendrick-Weikle closes her article by stating that the support network works because they have “insight, experience and heart” – and so does Dr. LaTonya Goffney!

 

LaTonya Goffney is the superintendent for the Aldine Independent School District (68,000 students) outside of Houston, TX and was the 2017 Texas Superintendent of the Year.

 

 

 

Enthusiastic About Principal Pipelines

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Enthusiastic About Principal Pipelines

by Jacquelyn O. Wilson, Ed.D.

Executive Director, National Policy Board for Educational Administration
Director, Delaware Academy for School Leadership, University of Delaware

 wilsonI love principals. Yes, I said it. I was an assistant principal and principal for 12 years and for the past 15 years I have engaged in state and district policy and practice work to improve principal pipelines. I say this proudly and with no excuses. I think principals are the catalyst for change in schools and they are instrumental in building capacity and talent to do the work necessary to support student learning and well-being in schools. Because of this, I have become an enthusiastic principal pipeline fanatic. I am passionate about the development and support of principals because I know that a strong preparation program followed by a well-designed support system in a school district can make the difference in a principal’s success. I know this because I was a principal and I work with hundreds of principals in my role as the Director of the Delaware Academy for School Leadership at the University of Delaware and at the National Policy Board for Educational Administration. So why is this work so important to me and what does an enthusiastic principal pipeline fanatic actually do?

It is important to begin by defining what I mean when I talk about a principal pipeline. I do not want to assume that everyone has the same definition as me. I have had the opportunity to facilitate district teams engaged in principal pipeline work for the Wallace Foundation for over a decade. I have also supported pipeline work in states where I provide technical assistance and professional development on behalf of my academy. For me, the principal pipeline begins with teacher leadership. We need to remember that in most states principals are required to have been teachers first. That is why it is so important that teachers be provided opportunities by their principal to engage in leadership activities while remaining in the classroom. Effective principals distribute instructional leadership to teacher leaders by having them lead professional development, take on responsibilities for data inquiry analysis during PLC time, or participate on the principal’s leadership team where decisions about schedules, budgets and supervisory responsibilities takes place. This is the first phase of a principal pipeline. This is where instructional leadership emerges and where teachers learn how to lead others from their classroom. My enthusiasm grows as I observe teachers learn how to lead their peers in a professional learning community or when sitting on a school committee where they are expected to use their voice on behalf of students. As an enthusiastic pipeline fanatic I advocate for opportunities for teacher leaders. This is the starting point for principal pipeline work.

The next phase of the principal pipeline occurs when a teacher leader is either “tapped” by someone to consider an administrative position or decides on their own to participate in a pre-service preparation program. Many districts design and facilitate their own programs by identifying talented teacher leaders and providing them opportunities for professional development and mentoring. Some teachers try these programs out first before deciding if they want to enroll in a principal preparation program. Others earn their certification first and then apply for district aspiring leadership programs. The order does not matter, it is the decision a teacher makes to step into the arena and explore what it would be like to take on the responsibilities of leadership that are necessary as an assistant principal. This requires courage and decision-making about a career pathway that may be outside of the classroom. It requires careful consideration of the impact on family and a commitment of time and effort.  This is a turning point for teachers who take this step and why selecting a high-quality principal preparation program that is aligned to national standards (PSEL/NELP) is so important. It is helpful when the district has partnered with an effective preparation program that they endorse. As an enthusiastic pipeline advocate I encourage state departments of education and universities to align their preparation programs to national standards and to collaborate with school districts as they redesign program curriculum and internship experiences.    

As aspiring leaders complete their certification programs they often begin looking for positions as an assistant principal or principal. Districts with strong principal pipeline programs have established clear expectations and procedures for selecting candidates to apply for principal and assistant principal positions. Districts have invested in advanced data tracking systems that make it possible to identify candidates by specific criteria and experiences. They often have a pool of candidates who have participated in district programs. These districts have also created policies and procedures for candidate recruitment and induction such as rewriting job descriptions based on district priorities and the strategic plan. Districts create opportunities for the school community to provide input on candidate selection, the use of interview protocols with scoring rubrics and performance tasks are regular parts of the hiring process. The district has an established induction program that includes support for new candidates such as mentoring. Selecting the best possible candidate and matching that individual to a school is very important for the school community. I get very excited when I see districts who make selection of new principal or assistant principal a priority. Selection and placement are instrumental to success and retention.

But the best principal pipeline programs do not stop with selection and placement. Districts have recognized that support and professional growth of principals is key to retention. Identifying individuals to serve in the role of principal supervisor is becoming increasingly more important. Experienced principals who have demonstrated effective leadership in a variety of school settings are often tapped to move into the position of principal supervisor. In these positions they serve as a supervisor responsible for such things as professional development, allocation of district resources, performance evaluation and coaching. Principal supervisors meet regularly with the principals they have been assigned to discuss such things as student achievement data and instructional practices and feedback to teachers. Their role is critically important if principals are to grow professionally. The supervisor often recommends professional development for the principals based on an identified need. The supervisor also uses coaching as a strategy to help the principal improve his/her instructional leadership.  

One of the important roles of the Principal Supervisor is balancing supervision and support with the responsibility to evaluate performance. Principal Supervisors have been trained to use the district or state approved performance evaluation system to provide on-going formative feedback to the principals they supervise. The performance evaluation systems provide opportunities for goal setting, mid-year conferences, evidence collection and a summative rating at the end of the annual cycle. Districts are finding the value of using an evaluation system aligned to the same standards used for preparation, hiring and induction so that principals understand the expectations and criteria for effective leadership in the district.

Foundational to the various components of a model principal pipeline is the alignment of the system to a set of professional standards. States are adopting or adapting the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) as the foundation of their work. The standards communicate expectations to practitioners, supporting institutions, professional associations, policy makers and the public about the work, qualities and values of effective educational leaders. The standards are organized around the domains, qualities, and values of leadership work that research and practice indicate contribute to students’ academic success and well-being.

Because I love principals, I encouraged states and districts I work with to develop and articulate a vision for principal pipeline leadership. If we are serious about school improvement, then we need to get serious about designing systems for principal pipelines that include: standards; high quality preparation programs; selective hiring; on the job evaluation and support; principal supervisors; and data tracking systems. I think we all know that if we want a great school where teachers can thrive and develop their expertise as teachers of content and caring, we must send them our very best principals. We also know that if we want schools where children are safe, cared for, and challenged academically we need to send them well-prepared principals. I want all of use to become enthusiastic about principal pipelines. Enthusiasm drives change and commitment. Aligning principal pipelines programs to the Professional Standards for Educational Leadership, creating developmental programs in school districts for aspiring school leaders, and selecting and placing candidates using data tracking system in schools where they best serve students are important first steps. Adding the support system with principal supervisors is important to the growth of principals as instructional leaders. The use of a standards-aligned performance evaluation process that includes coaching and professional development are essential steps to creating high quality principal pipeline systems that are sustainable.  I will continue to enthusiastically advocate for districts to invest in principal pipelines because every teacher and every student deserves an effective principal.

   

Is the Principal's Job Doable?

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Is the Principal's Job Doable?

By Frederick Brown, deputy executive director, Learning Forward

Someone asked that question a few years ago during a meeting of The Wallace Foundation Principal Pipeline Initiative (PPI) professional learning community in New York. I felt it was an incredibly appropriate question considering the many demands being placed on today’s school leaders.  To provide a bit of context, let me remind you that the principal pipeline initiative involves helping six large urban districts create a large corps of “instructional leaders” – principals whose main task is to improve teaching and learning. The districts include Hillsborough County, FL, New York City, Gwinnett County (GA), Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Prince George’s County (MD), and Denver.

This particular question about the viability of the principalship was directed to a panel that included the superintendents of these six districts. Keep in mind that these districts survived a vetting process by Wallace before receiving their funding. As a result, they are among the top districts in the country when it comes to focusing their attention and resources on the principalship. Several of the superintendents were quick to acknowledge their beliefs that the job of school principal is incredibly demanding and perhaps not for everyone. However, each superintendent who answered highlighted that principals absolutely need the appropriate supports in order to do their jobs effectively, but they all felt the job is definitely doable.

I will come back to that word “supports” in just a bit, but first I want to take a moment to contrast that moment in New York with another moment when that same question was posed during a State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness (SCEE) meeting several years ago in Baltimore. At this particular meeting were principals from across the country, and they were the ones to respond to the question about how “doable” their jobs are. Their answers were both passionate and poignant. Although no principal said it wasn’t possible to do their jobs, many of them described a set of circumstances that left the audience wondering how long they would be able to sustain their pace. They described being required to complete formal evaluations of dozens of teachers each year. They emphasized their districts’ responses to their state student assessments and their roles in supporting the testing processes. They described work weeks that typically lasted 80+ hours and weekends that were all but nonexistent. It was a sobering moment and left many people in the audience wondering if we are simply asking our principals to do too much.

As I reflect on both the SCEE meeting and the superintendents’ panel, I’m drawn back to that word “supports.” What is it that districts (and perhaps provinces and states) can do to help support our school leaders? Built into Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative itself are the foundation’s beliefs about some of those supports including:

  • Very clear leadership standards in place that outline what leaders are expected to know and be able to do
  • Strong leadership preparation that ensures leaders can move into a principal position with the skills needed to do the job
  • An induction process that provides job-embedded learning experiences during the first few years on the job
  • Ongoing mentoring and support to help principals navigate the ever changing educational landscape

The six PPI districts had to prove these supports were either partially or completely in place before they were awarded the grant. After hearing from some of the overwhelmed principals from the SCEE meeting and other districts I’ve visited, my guess is their districts may have lacked some of those basic supports. So what other supports do principals need? Here are a few I would offer:

  • As part of their training, induction, and ongoing professional learning, I would argue that principals need help understanding how to more effectively distribute leadership, particularly the management aspects of their work. Gone are the days of the superhero principals trying to manage all aspects of the work.
  • Building leaders need central offices and regional service centers that are viewed by principals not as “mandate generators” but as “centers of support” and “providers of resources.”
  • Principals need opportunities to network with their colleagues in learning communities where they can take ownership of their own learning and focus their efforts on solving “problems of practice” that will help move their collective work forward.
  • It’s imperative that principals receive support to help them strengthen their effectiveness of leaders of adult learning. In order for principals to become “multipliers of effective teaching” as Paul Manna outlined in his 2015 report, they must understand the basic tenets of professional learning as outlined in the Standards for Professional Learning (2011).

Is the principals’ job doable? In many places, unfortunately, I would say the answer might be NO. However, we know what it takes to change that reality, and it’s my hope that those principals who find themselves in “undoable” positions will find a way to advocate for a new reality.

Supporting Principals and Assistant Principals

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Supporting Principals and Assistant Principals

By Jackie O. Wilson, Ed.D, director, Delaware Academy for School Leadership, University of Delaware 

As an educator, professional developer and policy advocate for all matters related to education leadership, I am constantly surprised when state policy leaders, district decision-makers and local school boards do not understand the value of investing in principals and assistant principals. 

In 2004 Leithwood, Lewis, Anderson and Wahlstrom conducted a review of the research titled How leadership influences student learning.  The important finding in the report was that “school leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an influence on learning.” This finding prompted some districts to rethink the role of principals and their role in recruiting, developing and retaining teachers. 

Districts began offering new opportunities for principals and assistant principals to participate in professional development. With Race to the Top additional funding was provided to some states to support coaching and mentoring programs and specialized training for turnaround principals. Although some states had success stories about their investment in school leadership, there are mixed reviews about the impact on student learning. 

In 2015 the Professional Standards for Educational Leadership were approved by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration. The revised standards were different from the ISLLC (2008) standards and signaled the change in what principals and assistant principals were being asked to do in schools. The standards were based on 600 empirical research studies and input from thousands of practitioners. The consensus of the planning committee was that the work of education leaders is more challenging than in 2008 and the standards should reflect the change in those responsibilities. 

For those of us who work in schools every day, this came as no surprise. Principals are spending more time on the social and emotional needs of their students and teaching staff while balancing the work they are doing to lead instruction, develop teachers, and engage communities.  

We know that schools need strong leadership. We know that teachers want to work for principals they trust and respect. Teachers leave if they are not supported, challenged, and respected. We also know that principals create the environment where teaching and learning can take place. If we know this—why do we fail to invest in school leadership? 

We need to create conditions where our school leaders can grow and develop. It is imperative that we invest in what matters most to our students—great teachers and principals. If we want to retain and grow teachers, then we must grow and retain effective principals. Here are some ways we can do that:

  • Provide principals with a coach during their first year as a school leader. In years two and three the coach transitions to a mentor—less intense but still supportive. 
  • Create a Professional Learning Network where principals can engage with other educators on topics of interest or need. These networks provide the leader with the opportunity to discuss a research article or book, to master an innovative digital tool, or share resources on an innovation they would like to pilot in their school. 
  • Develop a Professional Growth Plan for principals and assistant principals that is personalized to meet their personal career pathway goals. 
  • Finally, provide the school leader with district support such as a Principal Supervisor who is dedicated to providing on-going support, feedback, and professional learning opportunities.  

Isn’t it time that we provide principals and assistant principals with the support they need to provide academic success and well-being to all our students?  

The Critical Need for Social & Emotional Learning Programs

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The Critical Need for Social & Emotional Learning Programs

MaryAnn2016
MaryAnn Jobe
Director, Leadership Development
AASA, The School Superintendents Association

In March 2018, The Wallace Foundation released a report on the effects of social and emotional learning programs in 25 elementary schools across the country. The Wallace-funded research brief, Preparing for Effective SEL Implementation, was completed by Stephanie Jones, Rebecca Bailey, Katharine Brush and Jennifer Kahn at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and published by Harvard.

Today, more than ever, we need to be attentive to students’ needs in the public-school environment because they are bringing more and more issues into the classroom. We worry now about nutrition and if students eat well. We try to help with dysfunctional families, and violence at home and in the neighborhood. We also try to educate these young minds so they can be college and career ready in the future. What are we finding out about social and emotional learning programs in elementary schools?

This is what the researchers have to say:

COMMON FEATURES OF EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS

Research indicates that the most effective SEL programs incorporate four elements represented by the acronym SAFE: (1) sequenced activities that lead in a coordinated and connected way to skill development; (2) active forms of learning that enable children to practice and master new skills; (3) focused time spent developing one or more social and emotional skills; and (4) explicit defining and targeting of specific skills. But SEL is about more than just targeting and building skills. Our own research builds upon the SAFE elements to add that SEL efforts are most successful when they also:

1. Occur within supportive contexts. School and classroom contexts that are supportive of children’s social and emotional development include (a) adult and child practices and activities that build skills and establish prosocial norms, and (b) a climate that actively promotes healthy relationships, instructional support and positive classroom management. For this reason, efforts to build social and emotional skills and to improve school culture and climate are mutually reinforcing and may enhance benefits when the two are pursued in a simultaneous and coordinated fashion.

2. Build adult competencies. This includes promoting teachers’ own social and emotional competence and supporting the ongoing integration of SEL-informed pedagogical skills into everyday practice.

3. Partner with family and community. This includes taking into consideration the environments and contexts in which children learn, live and grow by building family-school-community partnerships that can support children at home and in other out-of-school settings, fostering culturally competent and responsive practices, and considering how specific educational policies may influence children.

4. Target key behaviors and skills. This includes pursuing, in a developmentally appropriate way, skills across multiple domains of development, including: (a) emotional processes; (b) social/interpersonal skills; and (c) cognitive regulation or executive function skills.

5. Set reasonable goals. This includes articulating a series of short- and long-term outcomes that are reasonable goals or expectations for the specific SEL effort. These include (a) short-term indicators of children’s growth and progress in areas proximal to the specific SEL activities and (b) longer-term indicators of more distal, future impacts.

(excerpt from Preparing for Effective SEL Implementation.: http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/Documents/Preparing-for-Effective-SEL-Implementation.pdf )

As a leader in your school district, what are you doing to provide a school culture that embraces the uniqueness of every child? Have you developed an SEL program? If so, have you looked at the data? Is it making a difference?

(This blog is made possible through the generous support of The Wallace Foundation)

MaryAnn P. Jobe, Ed.D. is the director of education and leadership development at AASA, The School Superintendents Association.