This website is an introduction to Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts Public Schools. The Department commonly uses the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL's), definition of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): SEL is the process of developing students' and adults' social and emotional competencies-the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that individuals need to make successful choices. There are a range of other definitions for Social and Emotional Learning that are also viable.
Social Emotional Learning is a key part of one of the Department's five strategic priorities : Supporting social-emotional learning, health, and safety (also known as the "heart" strategy). Strengthening social and emotional competencies in students and adults also helps further all four themes in the Commissioner's Our Way Forward 2019 report to the Board: Deeper Learning for All; Holistic Support & Enrichment; Innovation & Evidence-Based Practice; and State as a Partner.
Several years ago (2016), the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held a special meeting on Social and Emotional Learning to provide an opportunity for members to hear a number of key ideas, information, and examples from experts in research, policy, and practice, and have the opportunity to discuss the topic of SEL.
This website includes information about the following topics. For more information about any of these resources, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEL website sections
Expand All Sections
Note: To receive periodic information about updates and offerings related to holistic supports & enrichment, including efforts to help strengthen social emotional competencies, health & safety, you can sign up for the DESE newsletter: Holistic support and enrichment, SEL, health and safety.
Collaborating States Initiative
This summary document provides brief highlights of the Department's efforts to support SEL during our initial few years of participation in the CSI and includes next steps.
PreK-K Standards on SEL and Approaches to Play and Learning (APL)
These Standards were developed in June 2015 as a collaborative initiative with the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the University of Massachusetts/Boston with funding from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant. The standards bring attention to critical areas of development and learning that positively impact student outcomes and can be used to guide efforts to strengthen curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development and family engagement.
Guidelines on Implementing SEL Curricula, K-12 — Updated November 2017
This document contains guidelines for schools and districts on how to effectively implement social and emotional learning curricula for students in grades K-12. The information provided relates to leadership, professional development, resource coordination, instructional approaches, policies and protocols, and collaboration with families.
Culturally Responsive Social-Emotional Competency Development
The Department is pleased to present the guidance and reflective tools found in this document, focused on the critical intersection between SEL and culturally responsive teaching.
Professional Standards for Teachers
The Professional Standards for Teachers (PSTs) are used by educator preparation programs in designing their teacher preparation programs and in preparing their teacher candidates. The 2015 Guidelines for Professional Standards for Teachers include a Social and Emotional Learning Indicator: Employs a variety of strategies to assist students to develop social emotional competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Educator Effectiveness Teacher and School Administrator Rubrics
Revised versions include increased alignment to SEL.
Acceleration Roadmap for the 2021-22 School Year
This resource is based on the idea that every student is capable of accessing grade-appropriate work with the right supports and interventions. The Classroom Educator Edition & the Building Leader Edition are organized around three priorities for the fall: fostering a sense of belonging, monitoring student understanding, and ensuring access to grade-appropriate work with the appropriate scaffolds. The roadmap is not a guide to adoption of new programs; it is a guide to supporting daily classroom instruction in the fall, given the diverse needs exacerbated by the pandemic.
Promoting Student Engagement, Learning, Wellbeing and Safety — School Year 2021-2022 (Released Summer 2021)
This document is designed for districts to use to continue to engage with students and their families, and to connect students and families with additional supports they may need during remote and hybrid learning. The document compiles excerpts of previously released as well as new Department guidance, resources, and recommendations.
Creating Positive Learning Environments: Recommendations and Resources to Support the Social Emotional Well-being of Students, Staff, and Families — Summer 2020
This resource is designed to help districts and schools support the social emotional well-being of students, staff, and families. It is intended to complement the reopening guidance, and includes a series of recommendations and sample resources to support planning and implementation, and builds upon related guidance offered this Spring (below).
Providing School-Based Behavioral and Mental Health Supports and Services during COVID-19 School Closures: Guidance for School Counselors and Psychologists, and other Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) — Spring 2020
This document is designed to guide and support the planning and delivery of school-based behavioral and mental health supports and services during this period of time when schools must be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Preschool Remote Learning Guidance
The Early Learning Team has created this guide for use during the COVID-19 school building closures. It includes background information as well as prerequisite content standards for all content areas of the MA curriculum frameworks, including the Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approached to Play and Learning Standards found below.
Guidebook for Inclusive Practice and Foundations online courses for Educators and Administrators
Created by Massachusetts educators, this Guidebook includes tools for districts, schools, and educators that are aligned to the MA Educator Evaluation Framework and promote evidence-based best practices for inclusion following the principles of Universal Design for Learning, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and Social and Emotional Learning.
SEL Guiding Principles in Math/ELA Curriculum FrameworksThe Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously in March, 2017 to adopt revised learning standards in math and in English language arts and literacy. Social Emotional Learning was included as a Guiding Principle in each.
Resources to support SEL Guiding Principle for Math
Resources to support SEL Guiding Principle for ELA/literacy
MTSS Blueprint and related resources
Focused on academic, behavior, and SEL
Supports integration of SEL within Inclusive Instruction / PBIS
MA Tools for Schools
This site is a clearinghouse of resources to support sustainable school improvement in Massachusetts. Also, the MA Tools for Schools COVID-19 Resources page contains links to local and national resources for implementing multi-tiered systems of supports during this time, including slides and links mentioned on COVID-19 related webinars.
Early Childhood Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) through Pyramid Model and Building Inclusive Communities in PreschoolIntegrated approach, including SEL related PD and resources
My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP)
Student planning tool including personal/social growth
Safe and Supportive Schools
Framework/Tool, Grants and PD, Commission — integrated approach, including SEL
Leading Educational Access Project
Incorporates SEL focus into PD and support
Last Updated: August 17, 2021
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.