Social and Emotional Learning


  • Surveys on social-emotional learning – Panorama is making available a free tool to measure 22 dimensions of the non-cognitive domain, which is broken into three areas: student competencies; student supports and school environment; and teacher skills and perspectives. Available at:

  • My Voice student survey incorporates data from more than one million students and student focus groups, as well as field observations and interviews spanning three decades and several countries.



  • Resilience – “Human beings are more resilient than we’d earlier thought,” says David Brooks in this New York Times column. “Many people bounce back from hard knocks and experience surges of post-traumatic growth.” Only about 13 percent of 9/11 first responders experienced post-traumatic stress in the six months that followed, and society-wide, at least three-quarters of people who experience a life-threatening or violent event emerge without a stress disorder. And even those who experience PTSD are likely to recover and rebuild their lives. “These are the people you sometimes meet who have experienced the worst in life but still radiate love and joy,” says Brooks, and lists what researchers believe are the key factors:
    • Unconditional love – “The people who survive and rebound from trauma frequently had an early caregiver who pumped unshakable love into them,” he says, “and that built a rock of inner security they could stand on for the rest of their lives.”
    • Positive beliefs about themselves – “These people are often deluded in good ways about their own abilities, but completely realistic about their situations,” says Brooks. They have “an optimist’s faith in their own abilities to control the future. But they have no illusions about the world around them. They accept what they have lost quickly. They see problems clearly. They work hard. Work is the reliable cure for sorrow.”
    • Storytelling – Traumatic events disrupt a person’s self-narrative, and some people wallow in dark ruminations about the past. But survivors are able to write a new story “that imagines a life better than before,” he says. “Book 1 is life before the event. Book 2 is the event that shattered the old story. But Book 3 is reintegration, a reframing new story that incorporates what happened and then points to a more virtuous and meaningful life than the one before… The stories super survivors tell have two big themes: optimism and altruism.”

    “The Tales of the Super Survivors” by David Brooks in The New York Times, November 24, 2015,

  • High Schools That Combine Academic and Social-Emotional Learning – In this American Educational Research Journal article, Stacey Rutledge, La’Tara Osborne-Lampkin, and Ronnie Roberts (Florida State University) and Lora Cohen-Vogel (University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill) compare four urban high schools in Broward County, Florida, two with impressive student achievement and two with lower results. The researchers’ goal was to identify the programs, policies, and practices that produced better results for these schools’ mostly poor, minority, and ELL students.There were many similarities among the schools in curriculum alignment, classroom instruction, and parent outreach, but the researchers identified some key differences. They believe the secret sauce of successful schools is the way they combine academic and social-emotional programs. This, they say, allows students to “effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.” Here are the key differences among the schools:
    • Organizational structures – The higher-performing schools had several programs that enhanced personalization by supporting interaction between adults and students. The key features: looping of guidance counselors and administrators over several years; comprehensive and consistently enforced behavior management structures; and educators’ ready access to a rich array of data on students.
    • Administrators’ involvement – In one of the high-performing schools, the principal met regularly with students to inquire about their classroom experiences. In one of the less successful schools, teachers expressed deep frustration at the lack of useful feedback after administrators’ frequent classroom visits.
    • Connecting with students – Adults in the higher-performing schools made deliberate efforts to personalize learning – for example, making sure all students were involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Students in these schools described teachers and administrators as “caring” and “involved.”
    • Academic supports – Higher-performing schools inculcated a culture of learning and college attendance for all students, while the lower-performing schools focused this message mostly on high-achieving students. The more-successful schools used advanced courses as a way to institutionalize rigor; made the guidance department the “hub” for academic support (in one school, counselors made a point of visiting classes at every grade level); and explicitly taught academic and social-emotional skills in classrooms and tutorials.
    • Use of data – All four schools were systematic in this domain, but the higher-performing schools had a more positive attitude about how student learning results could be used to improve students’ schedules and educators’ practices.
    • Social-emotional supports – The more-successful schools frequently used the language of personalization and pushed staff to know students and connect with them. There were also more formal and informal adult-student connections, which included being present during lunch periods and intentionally checking in with students. “You can talk to anybody if you have trouble or something,” said one student.”Understanding Effective High School: Evidence of Personalization for Academic and Social Emotional Learning” by Stacey Rutledge, Lora Cohen-Vogel, La’Tara Osborne-Lampkin, and Ronnie Roberts in American Educational Research Journal, December 2015 (Vol. 52, #6, p. 1060-1092), available for purchase at; Rutledge can be reached at
  • In Massachusetts Schools, a Focus on Well-being – READING — The only sound that could be heard in Maria Simon’s first-grade classroom one December morning was the soothing hum from a vibrating Tibetan singing bowl. Her students had gathered on a brightly colored rug at the back of the classroom, sitting with their eyes shut, their legs crossed, and their arms extended outward palms up.
  • American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults (APA, February 2014) – WASHINGTON—American teens report experiences with stress that follow a similar pattern as adults, according to a new survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, during the school year, teens say their stress level is higher than levels reported by adults in the past month. For teens and adults alike, stress has an impact on healthy behaviors like exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy foods.
  • Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick? (New York Times, January 2016) – STUART SLAVIN, a pediatrician and professor at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, knows something about the impact of stress. After uncovering alarming rates of anxiety and depression among his medical students, Dr. Slavin and his colleagues remade the program: implementing pass/fail grading in introductory classes, instituting a half-day off every other week, and creating small learning groups to strengthen connections among students. Over the course of six years, the students’ rates of depression and anxiety dropped considerably.