Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Successful School Guideline #7 [Communities of Learners]

An effective operational infrastructure is in place for weaving school and community resources together into a larger community of learners who take responsibility for ongoing planning, implementation, and evaluation of school climate improvement efforts.

Suggested Actions that address the Guideline:

  • Provide leadership and staff with continuous professional development in order to develop and sustain practices related to school improvement efforts. (PLCs)
    • Determine and provide leadership and staff with a set of brief, common, accessible reading materials that will establish a common language and serve as the basis for planning ongoing PD. Examples include the Laminated SECD and School Climate Resource Cards from www.nprinc.com.
  • Engage school staff in collaboratively setting and meeting ongoing learning goals
    • Arrange for PLC or other Common Planning Time meetings to have ongoing goals related to social-emotional and character development and/or school culture and climte
  • Provide opportunities and support for all students to participate in and contribute to the well-being of their classmates and the positive culture and climate of the school
    • Set up school problem solving subgroups in conjunction with existing staff committees (HIB, discipline, safety, morale, substance abuse prevention, school heatlth and wellness promotion) and/or as parallel efforts that have ongoing communication with staff committees. Ensure students on these committees have their own ongoing PD via videos, readings, etc.
  • Involve students in peer and cross-aged learning groups in areas of their interest
    • Encourage lunchtime and after school groups of mixed-aged students meeting around common interests, such as robotics, performing, crafts, service, environmental concerns, gardening; involve all adults in a supervisory role, including security, custodial, secretarial and paraprofessional staff
  • Give teachers and staff members a voice in school-based decision-making. (Distributed leadership)
    • In all committees, PLC’s, and related groups, give many members explicit roles, including having learning buddies with whom to share and discuss new learning and ongoing questions.
  • Increase home and school connections;
    • Create a newsletter or online blog site to share ongoing informat learning accomplishments of staff and students with parents and guardians;
    • Create a forum for family members to express areas in which they would like their own “PD” and arrange to create a mutual self-help group format to foster sustainable support among families in the community
  • Engage the wider community to respond to and, where feasible, prevent crises;
    • Create and communicate clear crisis response procedures
  • Increase community involvement and support (e.g., outreach to develop greater community involvement and support, including enhanced use of volunteers and community resources to enhance the educational program).
    • Have a member of the SCC Team serve the role of volunteer coordinator, to have a single point of contact between potential volunteers and the school, both to organize and manage offers of help from the community so that they do not jumble the schoolhouse, and to make requests of the community for needed volunteer resources.
    • Engage various community groups and entities that work with our students (including the faith-based community) in using these guidelines when working with out students. These groups may include preschool and after-school programs as well as sports programs and other activities such as those sponsored by Parks and Recreation Departments.
    • Encourage and lead a dialogue between these groups such that a uniform set of expectations is developed and followed. A good example of this is the Positive Coaching strategies that can be adopted at alllevels of sports participation.
  • Celebrate milestones and accomplishments as staff, students, and community work to achieve meaningful school climate improvement.
    • Create bulletin boards or announcement boards inside and/or outside of schools that mention any birthdays or other significant milestones (with appropriate permission to do so);
    • Develop a procedure for individuals to self-nominate/self-explain efforts to improve the school culture and climate, as well as nominate others, and then publicize these monthly via a bulletin or announcement board inside and/or outside of school and/or via existing newsletters or web postings
    • Recognize learning accomplishments, such as completing a unit of PD, participating in a book discussion, attending and sharing information from significant conferences