Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Successful School Guideline #5 [Engaged]

The school community develops meaningful and engaging practices, activities and norms that promote social and civic responsibilities and a commitment to social justice.


Suggested Actions that address the Guideline:

  • Provide opportunities for students to exercise voice and choice and to explore individual interests and needs and take a meaningful role in developing personal learning goals.
    • Promote student-centered learning in the school, where the students themselves have an opportunity to create their own learning experiences within the context of the curriculum.
    • Provide students with the opportunity to have a say in school issues and implement those ideas while learning the protocols necessary to work within a complex organizational system.
    • Provide students with the opportunity to lead traditional parent conferences.
  • Design practices to remove barriers to learning and reengage students who have become disengaged.
    • Provide alternative educational programs for disaffected students.
    • Allow students to demonstrate what they have learned in ways that are consistent with their multiple intelligence strengths
    • Create a variable system of supports and practices to transition students back into the school. These may include part-day schedules, special accommodations, and responsible adult contact, among other supports.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for students to have leadership roles that enhance their commitment to school and to the development of themselves and others.
    • Recognize that there are different kinds of leadership in the school population. This includes “social leaders” who can have a tremendous impact on their peers, but who may not represent the “ideal student’ who usually gets the benefit of leadership opportunities (Student Council, Peer Leaders, etc.)
  • Promote Student Government that involves more than just elected leaders and maintains an active and ongoing role in solving school-wide problems
    • Promote a system where student government representatives regularly communicate information about school issues to their constituents and the whole student body, (This is often done through Social Studies or English classes so that every student can be reached.)
  • Create opportunities for students to engage in moral action through academic service learning projects and civic engagement.
    • Make sure Service Learning opportunities are connected to the curriculum and strike a balance between Learning and Service.
    • Provide students with the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their service learning projects that are personally relevant to them.
  • Assure that every student has opportunities to make a strong connection to a caring and responsible adult. (Mentors/Advisory)
    • Encourage faculty members to work with students as mentors on independent study projects, service learning projects, and the like.
    • Consider an advisory program where all adults work with small, multi-graded groups of students.