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Professional learning should blend SEL and equity: SEL coaches can lead the way

By Jacy Ippolito and Rachelle Savitz
April 2022
As school districts continue to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social justice and equity work is critical. Systemic inequities that have always existed in pre-K-12 schools in the United States have been further exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic. Every school leader needs to ask: How can we promote equity-focused work in schools? Some districts have leaned on district-level directors of equity to lead the work, but they cannot be the lone champions of social justice efforts. Equity leadership requires a broad coalition, and collaboration is key. Some districts are strengthening their coalitions by adding a social and emotional learning (SEL) coach, instructional specialist, or director. Building intentional collaboration among SEL and equity leaders and efforts makes sense, given the extent to

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References

Bean, R.M. & Ippolito, J. (2016). Cultivating coaching mindsets: An action guide for literacy leaders. Learning Sciences International.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2020). SEL is… casel.org/what-is-sel/

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Jagers, R.J., Rivas-Drake, D., & Williams, B. (2019). Transformative social and emotional learning (SEL): Toward SEL in service of educational equity and excellence. Educational Psychologist, 54(3), 162-184. doi:10.1080/00461520.2019.1623032

National Equity Project. (n.d.). Social emotional learning and equity. www.nationalequityproject.org/frameworks/social-emotional-learning-and-equity

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Simmons, D. (2021). Why SEL alone isn’t enough. Educational Leadership, 78(6), 30-34.

Simmons, D. N., Brackett, M. A., & Adler, N. (2018). Applying an equity lens to social, emotional, and academic development. Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University.

Teaching Tolerance. (2018). Social justice standards: The teaching tolerance anti-bias framework. www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/TT-Social-Justice-Standards-Anti-bias-framework-2020.pdf


Jacy Ippolito (jippolito@salemstate.edu) is professor and co-coordinator, programs in educational leadership at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts.

Rachelle Savitz (rsavitz@clemson.edu) is an assistant professor at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.


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