Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Core Values



We’re Not ‘All in It Together’ – But we could be, if we rise to the moment.

Summary:  This article talks about the importance and character and civic-mindedness in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus.  The author speaks about civic character and the responsibility each of us should feel toward acting responsibly in the face of this public health crisis.

Source:  Eric Liu, The Atlantic, April 8, 2020



Promoting Prosocial Behaviors in the Classroom

Summary: This article reports on the importance of  developing prosocial behaviors in reinforcing academic performance.  The author focuses on gratitude, kindness, and empathy as three prosocial behaviors that you can implement in your classroom right away.

Source:  Catherine Beachboard, Edutopia, December 11, 2019



Here’s Why Raising ‘Good’ Kids is Just Good Enough…

Summary:  This article from NBC’s Parent Toolkit, suggests ways to raise socially responsible kids.  These include acts of helpfulness and kindness as well as good problem-solving skills.  A final suggestion is that parents need need to model these traits for their children.

Source:  Maurice Elias, NBC Parent Toolkit, April 2, 2019



SEL Is Easy to Love, Which Should Make Us Nervous

Summary: This article offers and opinion on the importance of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning and the possible pitfalls that this movement toward SEL could face despite how important these skills seem to be intuitively.

Source:  Rick Hess, Education Week, January 21, 2019



Whole Child Education: The Era of False Choices Needs to End

Summary:  This article comments on implications from the Aspen Institute Report and the importance of a balanced view of student achievement and success.  The article also focuses on “the need for schools and communities to embrace children as individuals and future citizens, and ensure that they don’t feel like test-taking cogs in a bureaucratic enterprise.”

Source:  Frederick M. Hess and Tim Shriver, Real Clear Education, January 16, 2019



Building a Strong School Culture

Summary:This article suggests six steps that principals (school leaders) can take to help to build a strong school culture. These include serving as a role model, selecting staff wisely, teaching what you’d like to see, broadcasting your vision, making your vision tangible, and restructuring social networks.

Source: Leah Shafer, Harvard GSE, September 9, 2018

Categories: School Culture and Climate, Leadership in SEL, Core Values, Research in SEL



What Makes a Good School Culture?

Summary:This article lays out several factors that make up a positive school culture. The most important elements of culture are connections. core beliefs, and behaviors.

Source:Leah Shafer, Harvard GSE, July 23, 2018

Categories: School Culture and Climate, Core Values, SEL Basics, Relationships



Passport to Tolerance

Summary:This article explores ways that schools can address tolerance and cultural responsiveness. It offers several strategies that can be used to celebrate different cultures and make schools safe and welcoming for all students.

Source: Don Vu, Edutopia, October 19, 2018

Categories: Educational Equity, Core Values, Empathy, School Culture and Climate, SEL Basics



What’s Missing When We Talk About Grit

Summary: This article explores the importance of relationships and connections when talking about the positive effects of grit. These connections serve as a foundation which encourages students to make the effort to succeed

Source: Luke Reynolds, Education Week, October 23, 2018

Categories: Grit, Performance Values, Relationships, Motivation, Core Values



P-E-A-C-E: The Acronym


by Ed DeRoche, Director, Character Education Resource Center University of San Diego


In the Center’s July newsletter, we described 25 Steps on becoming a culturally response teacher.

Several responses and questions helped me develop the content for this blog. A few respondents believed that “civility is on the decline “and one teacher wrote: “We need a citizens’ peace treaty.”

I had my topic for this blog.

“If we are to reach real peace in this world, we shall have to begin with the children.” -Mahatma Gandhi


“Perseverance” is the ability an individual or group has to keep going to reach a goal in spite of how hard it is to attain or how many obstacles one faces.

Perseverance builds self-confidence, improves performance, creates trust, helps one work through relationship issues, and opens the door to “resourcefulness.”

Angela Duckworth calls it “grit.” To encourage “grit” among students, she suggests that teachers “MODEL IT! CELEBRATE IT! ENABLE IT!”

“Grit predicts accomplishing challenging goals of personal significance. In most research studies, grit and measures of talent and IQ are unrelated, suggesting that talent puts no limits on the capacity for passion and perseverance.”



Psychiatrist Alfred Adler defined empathy as “seeing with the eyes of another, hearing with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”

Sam Chaltain ( developed “The Empathy Formula” noting three types of empathy:

[1] Cognitive empathy—the act of knowing how another person feels.

[2] Emotional empathy—the capacity to physically feel the emotions of another.

[3] Compassionate empathy—the combination cognitive and emotional empathy; to take action about what one feels and thinks.

Michele Borba says this about writing her book, UNSELFIE: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

“My goal was to create a conversation that makes us rethink our view of success as exclusively grades, rank and score and includes traits of humanity! It’s time to include empathy in our parenting and teaching if we hope to prepare children to succeed and thrive in our global new world.”


Bruce Tulgan is the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, a management research and training firm. In an article, Teaching Positive Attitude, he offers this advice that is applicable to educators.

“Research shows that if you make an effort to display positive words, tones, and gestures on the outside, it has a positive effect on your internal brain chemistry and it actually makes you feel better on the inside. Good attitudes can be a self-fulfilling prophesy: Behave as if you feel positive, and you will eventually begin to genuinely feel positive—and experience positive results.”

Here are five reminders about the importance of helping your students learn how to develop positive attitudes [edited]:

[1] Positivity makes it easier to ask for help. When you see an obstacle in your path, you’re more likely to reach out to a teacher or parent for advice.

[2] Positivity can even improve your health—by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate.

[3] Positivity increases your satisfaction in life and school. When you choose to embrace positive thoughts and focus on the things you’re grateful for and successful at, you stop comparing yourself.

[4] Positivity helps you grow. Positivity can be useful by prompting students to take risks and try new things in the classroom and at home.

[5] Students who learn from their mistakes can still focus on the positive side of things.


Collaboration requires commitment. Commitment requires courage.

Canice Nuckols says there are “2 critical factors” and suggests four ideas with regard to teacher collaboration [edited]:

The critical factors:

•  The first is teachers’ “buy in to the idea of collaboration.”

•  The second is that teachers understand “how to effectively engage in collaborative work with fellow teachers is critical to the process.”

Her four collaboration ideas are:

[1] Create a shared vision. Develop statements addressing the group’s vision, goals, and an assessment plan. This connection between the shared vision and subsequent goals (and assessment) will define the
work of the team and ensure ownership on the part of each individual.

[2] Develop a collaborative community. Mutual respect and trust for each other can be gained by getting to know each other on a personal as well as a professional level This will take time to develop and will require a lot of work among the members—attending all meetings, being an active, contributing member, and accepting of the ideas of others.

 [3] Establish protocols. In order to progress towards the goals established by the group, teachers/members will need to develop protocols to ensure the smooth functioning of the group—defining roles and responsibilities, how the group will communicate thoughts and ideas, and defining time parameters.

[4] Proactively manage conflict. The group should establish a conflict management plan that includes providing support and time for individuals to work through the reasons that are causing conflict. All members of the group should be vigilant with regards to managing their own responses and interactions with their colleagues.…


In its June 17th, 2020 issue, Education Week ran this front-page headline: “Are America’s Schools Ready For Tough Talk on Racism? We want equality is easier to say than We stand against racism.”

I don’t know the answer to the question. I do know that I need clarity on the meaning of the two words “equity and equality.” You might as well.

Robert Longley, a history and government expert, says:

“In education, equality means providing every student with the same experience. Equity, however, means overcoming discrimination against specific groups of people, especially defined by race and gender.”

In an article titled, Racial Equality or Racial Equity? The Difference It Makes, author Paula Dressel, Ph.D., writes [edited]:

“Racial equity results when you cannot predict advantage or disadvantage by race. But the route to achieving equity will not be accomplished through treating everyone equally. It will be achieved by treating everyone equitably, or justly according to their circumstances.…This is why we advocate the dual aspirations of raising the bar and closing the gaps. Yet, when resources are limited, as they often are, it is critical to invest in ways that erase those gaps that for too long have compromised the promise of children, families, and communities of color. Racial equity matters.” equality-or-racial-equity-the-difference-it-makes/

“If you are a parent [or teacher]—regardless of your race or the race of your child—ask your child’s teacher or principal: ‘What is the school doing to ensure all students, especially Black and Latino students, are getting access to rigorous academic experiences?’”

-Gloria Lee, founder and CEO of Educate78

Ed DeRoche, Director, Character Education Resource Center University of San Diego
BLOG, July 2020