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Massachusetts school and district leaders launch statewide campaign to promote social-emotional learning
Five associations of educational leaders have launched exSEL: Excellence through Social-Emotional Learning (exselmass.org), a statewide campaign to bring attention to the need for students to develop critical skills such as self-management, teamwork, persistence, empathy, and responsible decision-making.
The group argues that the state’s singular focus on academic outcomes often has resulted in a lack of time and resources invested in students’ social and emotional development. Moreover, the leaders cite a notable increase in students facing mental health challenges that schools alone cannot address, including the effects on children who have experienced trauma. The coalition has presented a series of recommendations, including improved coordination and delivery of supports from children’s mental health providers. Left untreated, they argue, these problems are more likely to result in students dropping out of school or exhibiting harmful behaviors such as bullying, substance abuse, or suicide.
The work of exSEL has been guided in part by a report from the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, which outlines both the need for greater emphasis on SEL and the benefits of doing so – not only for students at risk but for all students. For example, a growing number of employers are reporting among new hires a lack of the social-emotional skills needed to succeed in the workplace. The campaign highlights the need to prepare graduates not only with technical and academic knowledge but also with a broad range of interpersonal skills needed to excel on the job.
The coalition was launched by five associations representing more than 5,000 educational leaders: Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association (MSSAA), Massachusetts Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA), and Massachusetts Organization of Educational Collaboratives (MOEC), in partnership with Teachers21 and the Rennie Center. The exSEL campaign marks the first time these groups have come together around a single issue.
The coalition will host its first Twitter chat featuring John D’Auria, President of Teachers21, on the state of social-emotional learning in Massachusetts: Wednesday, October 5, 8:00 – 9:00 pm ET, using #exsel.