As you continue to think about your own sel programming efforts, do not be surprised if a mixture of exhilaration and dread accompanies the start of your work, whether you're launching a new program or modifying current efforts. In our experience, once you are moving forward with a high-quality SEL program, the reaction of the children and your own enjoyment of the process will help keep you engaged in these activities. To get you started, we have included the following:
- A structured series of questions linked to recommendations for practice. These questions will help you and your colleagues examine in depth your current efforts to provide high-quality social and emotional education for your students. By looking at what you are already doing at the classroom, school, or district levels, you can identify areas of strength in your SEL efforts, as well as areas in need of improvement. The next step involves careful planning, with the goal of setting priorities that reflect and sustain your strengths and then gradually add components that will make your SEL program more comprehensive.
- A list of school sites that are willing to be contacted or visited. By visiting these schools you can see SEL programs in action and talk to those actually involved in implementing them. This activity is perhaps your most important source of assistance in carrying out an effective self-assessment, since we all tend to work best with guidance from colleagues. The experienced SEL practitioners at these sites—some of which are in their second decade of SEL work, while others are relative newcomers with only a couple of years' experience—can provide rationales, implications, and implementation details useful beyond the specifics of their programs. They can also share informative “war stories” about how, in the face of obstacles, they have persisted and adapted to establish meaningful social and emotional education for their students. Appendix C presents a list of these sites. Note, too, that many programs have video resources that supplement the written materials.
A Challenge to Examine and Enhance SEL Practices
Now that you have gone through the guidelines for social and emotional education, we encourage you to revisit your own SEL efforts. First, you may want to return to the series of self-reflection questions raised in Chapter 2 and the responses you wrote. We hope that the information provided in Chapters 3 through 7 has stimulated you to develop fresh insights as you think about your SEL goals; your SEL activities at the classroom, school, and district level; implementation considerations; or program evaluation needs. In this chapter we build on the questions in Chapter 2, the 39 guidelines, and recommendations for effective practice offered by other sources (e.g., Consortium on the School-Based Promotion of Social Competence 1994, Westchester County Task Force on Social Competence Promotion Instruction 1990) to assist you in moving forward with your own SEL efforts.