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New Guide Offers Resources on Best SEL Practices

Emerging best practices in out-of-school-time (OST) are well aligned with the goals of social and emotional learning (SEL), but few SEL programs are designed for OST environments.

As afterschool professionals focus on building skills beyond academic knowledge, a new guide released by The Wallace Foundation offers detailed information about curriculum content and program features of 25 evidence-based programs that practitioners can use to make informed choices about their SEL programs.

Navigating SEL from the Inside Out: Looking Inside & Across 25 Leading SEL Programs: A Practical Resource for Schools and OST Providers offers practitioners the breadth and depth that enables them to compare what is taught—and how—across programs. It also explains how SEL programs can be adapted to OST settings.

The guide was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and written by Stephanie Jones, an associate professor in human development and urban education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a team of Harvard researchers. Jones is an acclaimed expert and speaker on SEL.

Building upon existing tools in the field, Navigating SEL from the Inside Out provides profiles of each program, including specific skills targeted and instructional methods. For example, some programs are designed to help students regulate their behavior, while others are aimed at developing certain mindsets or character traits.

Edward Pauly, director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation, said the guide makes a valuable contribution to both the SEL and OST field.

"This guide offers actionable information about research-based programs that will be very helpful to a wide range of stakeholders," Pauly said. "We're particularly pleased with the focus on out-of-school-time programs, which Wallace has long supported and increasingly have a role to play in helping students reach their full potential."

In addition to using the guide to select new programs, afterschool professionals can use it to evaluate the fit and effectiveness of their existing SEL approach. The guide offers:

  • Background information on SEL and its benefits, including key features of effective programs and common implementation challenges
  • Summary of the evidence base for each of the 25 programs
  • Recommendations for adapting the programs for OST settings
  • Summary tables that allow practitioners to look across the features of the programs and compare them
  • Detailed, individual profiles for each program
  • Tools for practitioners to use, including a set of worksheets and planning supports to help stakeholders make decisions based on the program profiles and summary tables

Navigating SEL from the Inside Out is available at www.wallacefoundation.org.

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