Coaching to improve SEL: A Sneak Peek of The Learning Professional’s December issue

The Learning Professional team is so excited about our upcoming issue on coaching that we had to share a sneak peek. In the December issue, you’ll find articles about best practices in coaching and thought-provoking insights about the profession, and you’ll also read stories of impact on a range of areas including math achievement, early childhood program quality, and social and emotional skills.

The article, “Toolbox for SEL: Coaching builds teachers’ social and emotional strategies,” provides another plank in the sturdy platform of evidence for the importance of coaching. Authors Laura Stickle, Rebecca Bailey, Gretchen Brion-Meisels, and Stephanie Jones, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, remind us that any intervention is only as effective as its implementation, and explain how coaching has improved implementation of a social and emotional learning initiative in elementary schools. Their job-embedded, strategic approach embodies the principles in the Standards for Professional Learning.

The authors shared a few words with us about why they took this approach and previewed the findings of their study, which are detailed in the article.

“As SEL researchers, we are committed to designing and testing new approaches to supporting educators engaged in social and emotional learning initiatives. We are familiar with the challenges of implementing SEL well and in ways that are embedded throughout the school day. Research shows that competing school priorities and a lack of professional learning in this area leave many teachers feeling underprepared.

“In 2016, we began collaborating with a team of educators, a counselor, and a social worker at an elementary school to support their SEL professional learning. Moving beyond our typical staff trainings, we engaged in ongoing coaching and support for educators implementing SEL in their classrooms. In particular, we focused on SEL kernels of practice, which are designed to help teachers flexibly incorporate short SEL practices throughout the school day.

“Our research suggested that teachers found this model beneficial to both their own and their students’ social and emotional growth. We also learned more about school-wide factors, policies, and practices that optimize or hinder SEL coaching and larger SEL efforts.”

Read the article for all the details, and stay tuned for more great content on coaching in a few weeks.