Professional Development

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SEL and the Importance of Strengthening Adult Capacity

After many years of debate within the education world, a growing movement dedicated to the social, emotional, and academic well-being of children is reshaping learning and changing lives across America.

A new report from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development provides insight into the work the National AfterSchool Association is doing in the social-emotional learning realm.

A Nation at Hope, the final report from the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, details multiple vantage points to engage educators, policymakers, researchers, and advocates in creating a more seamless understanding of how, where, when, and from whom children learn.

For the report, NAA worked with the Commission and its Youth Development Work Group to engage members in compiling feedback on draft policy, practice and research recommendations. NAA and the Work Group were tasked with tapping into partner expertise to ensure the critical perspective of the youth development sector was accurately reflected, and ensure the recommendations are inclusive of the youth development perspective and the issues focus on partnerships and alignment with youth development partners and K-12 education.

Additionally, NAA contributed expertise and resources to:

• Provide the evidence base that youth development programs and services are valuable places to support the development of social, emotional and academic skills.
• Offer examples of ways in which the youth development organizations can partner with schools to support the integration and alignment of social, emotional and academic development practices across settings.
• Make a call to action for K-12 education stakeholders to form more strategic partnerships with the youth development sector, to support holistic development and success for each and every student.

Overall report recommendations to practitioners, policymakers, and researchers include broadening the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child; building settings that are physically and emotionally safe and fostering strong bonds among children and adults; teaching specific social, emotional, and cognitive skills and competencies and infusing them in academic content and all aspects of the day; and building partnerships among schools, families, and community organizations to support healthy social, emotional, and academic learning and development in and out of school.

Examples of how SEL starts with adults can be seen in the article "SEL for Kids Begins With Adults" in the Winter 2019 issue of AfterSchool Today, written by Jessica Newman, Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research, and Gina Warner, President and CEO of NAA.

The work done in the field speaks for itself. Promoting social, emotional, and academic learning is not a shifting educational fad; it is the substance of education itself.

Learn more by accessing A Nation at Hope in its entirety.