Build KNOWLEDGE & Skills

Practices for Social, Emotional, Academic Development

SEL Practices from Student Success Network Members

Our members...

measure student SEL in the same way, so we can learn promising practices and approaches from "bright spot" sites.

test SEL practices and collect data on their effectiveness in collabs.

A Creative Approach to Adult SEL (Lulu & Leo Fund)

Skill-building Session; Expo Workshop

Stephanie Krieger and Debra Disbrow of the Lulu & Leo Fund shared their organization's approach to adult social-emotional learning: the 10 Principles of Creativity. Through activities and discussion, participants explored the power of choosing creativity in their daily work and brainstormed how they could bring adult SEL -- through the Principles -- back to their own organization.

tags: adult SEL; growth mindset; self-efficacy

Adults as Mirrors and Models: Targeting Adult SEL Competencies (Ramapo for Children)

EXPO Worskhop

Cecily Mitchell-Harper gave participants a taste of Ramapo’s professional development training, which supports participants to: (1) increase their capacity to recognize their own triggers and feelings in their work with young people and develop plans for managing their emotions, (2) engage young people in constructive problem solving by decoding behavior into feelings and offering alternatives, (3) create structures and routines for self-reflection, processing conflicts, goal setting and stress-management, (4) foster environments that promote positive and empathetic relationships between all members of the community.

tags: adult SEL; social-emotional learning

Collaborative Approaches to Building Student SEL (ENACT)

EXPO Worskhop

Greg Cox and Alicia Thompson engaged participants in a a reflection activity that, in true ENACT form, incorporated improvisation, creativity, and joy. The ENACT team presented their approach on building partnerships, focusing on their partnership with Zone 126, and then asked participants to think about organizations that they might be able to collaborate with in order to help students reach their goals. Through discussion, pair shares and some acting, participants learned the different factors that play into creating partnerships with organizations who share similar vision, and to maintain them.

tags: partnership


External Resource

Edutopia shines a spotlight on what works in education. They show people how they can adopt or adapt best practices, and tell stories of innovation and continuous learning in the real world.

Their social and emotional learning resources include guides and videos for helping students develop skills to manage their emotions, resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions.

Finding their Why: Infusing Positive Youth Development Principles into College Readiness Activities (OBT)

EXPO Workshop

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow’s College Access Director, Robin Blanc, and CAP Counselor Shayaun Pakizegi led participants through their journey of creating a college access program that prioritized self-efficacy and motivation in youth. After a small group discussion into the research surrounding efficacy and motivation, the OBT team shared their model for backwards planning, which incorporated positive youth development throughout their framework. Participants then divided into groups focused on different facets of college readiness, and brainstormed goals, and the activities that would lead them to achieve them.

tags: workforce development, out-of-school youth, opportunity youth, postive youth development, self-efficacy, motivation, backwards planning, college access, post-secondary access and readiness

Goal Setting to Promote Positive Academic Behaviors & Growth Mindset (Good Shepherd Services YABCs & HEAF)

EXPO Workshop

tags: goal-setting, mastery-based experiences, academic behaviors, growth mindset, opportunity youth, overage under-credited youth, yabc, middle school, goals

Growth Mindset YouTube Challenge (CitySquash)

Skill-building Session

tags: mastery-based experiences, growth mindset, middle school

Growth Mindset For 9th Graders (PERTS)

External Resource

Growth Mindset for 9th Graders is an evidence-based program designed to increase 9th grade students’ academic motivation, resilience, and achievement. Research shows that schools can boost performance—particularly for students with a history of academic struggle—by helping students develop a growth mindset: the belief that they can develop their academic abilities through effective study strategies.

Online program delivered in two 30-minute sessions. Includes survey questions, short reading passages, and brief reflection exercises. Students will learn:

  • Scientific evidence showing that the brain is malleable.
  • Specific behaviors that can rewire the brain and increase one’s intellectual abilities.
  • The importance of effective study strategies and of getting help from others.

Guide to Schoolwide SEL (CASEL)

External Resource

The School Guide’s four focus areas help you organize, implement, and improve your SEL efforts. The focus areas are: (1) build awareness, commitment, and ownership, then create a plan; (2) strengthen adult SEL; (3) promote SEL for students; and (4) practice continuous improvement.


  • Most resources are available in out-of-school organizations versions -- look out for OST labels.
  • A great place to start is adopting some of the SEL Three Signature Practices, many of which are appropriate for adult staff and youth participants, into your programming or staff meetings. The three practices are: (1) Welcoming Inclusion Activities, (2) Engaging Strategies, and (3) Optimistic Closures.

Improving Student Engagement and Retention (Let's Get Ready)

EXPO Workshop

tags: inspiring practice, engagement, retention, attendance, data, practical measure, continuous improvement, using data, understanding data, goal-oriented & mastery-based experiences, growth mindset, belonging

Institutionalizing SEL: Two Organizations' Approaches (Phipps Neighborhoods and YMCA)

EXPO Workshop

We all know social-emotional learning is important. But where does an organization that wants to take a strategic, coordinated approach to building SEL into the culture of their organization start? In this session, participants heard two organizations that have taken different paths discuss what they’ve done, what they’ve learned, and where they’re going next.

To guide action, this resource is organized into five sections:

  1. Vision of Student Success
  2. Student Learning Experience
  3. Adult Learning in Support of Student Success
  4. Learning Environment and School Climate
  5. Asset Mapping and Resource Allocation.

Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams (The Aspen Institute Education and Society Program)

External Resource

This action guide provides school leadership teams with a resource for integrating the social, emotional and academic needs of young people into the daily student experience.

Each section summarizes foundational research, identifies equity implications, offers guiding questions to stimulate inquiry, and suggests high-impact actions. Finally, there are vignettes that illustrates what this looks like in practice, and links to curated resources that support deeper exploration of the issues and opportunities.

Playbooks (Character Lab)

External Resource

A Playbook is a ready-to-use resource that targets a specific character strength. Award-winning Playbooks are codeveloped by educators, scientists, and designers, wedding the expertise of each profession in one resource.


  • Curiosity
  • Gratitude
  • Grit
  • Intellectual Humility
  • Kindness
  • Purpose
  • Self-Control
  • Social Intelligence

Research + Role-play: Designing Student Centered Curriculum (Opportunity Network)

EXPO Workshop

Stephanie Nudelman and Meshay Long shared how and when practitioners can survey students to discover how they like to learn, how they can adapt our curriculum to leverage staff strengths and meet student needs, and how to design Educational Live Action Role-play (Edu-LARP) to teach skills.