Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)


Known as "SEL" for short, social and emotional learning is the process through which individuals acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to:

► Understand and manage emotions
► Set and achieve positive goals
► Feel and show empathy for others
► Establish and maintain positive relationships
► Make responsible decisions

For children, this process provides an environment that helps foster supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging and meaningful.


Core Competencies and D401's Vision for SEL


One of the nation's leaders in SEL research, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), has identified five core competencies that systematic SEL instruction seeks to develop in students:

Self-awareness — the ability to know one's strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism and a "growth mindset."

Self-management — the ability to effectively manage stress, control impulses and motivate oneself to set and achieve goals.

Social awareness — the ability to understand the perspectives of others and empathize with them, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Relationship skills — the ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Responsible decision-making — the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety and social norms.

With these competencies in mind, District 401 has engaged in a multi-year initiative to build a continuum of SEL supports across all grades. 

Our vision is to seamlessly integrate SEL into the academic environment by using a variety of research-based programs, along with staff development, to teach students the social and emotional skills they need to be successful learners.

CASEL's five core competencies serve as the foundation for our SEL instruction at each grade level, from early childhood to high school.


Social Justice League


In 2016, the District formed a committee called the Social Justice League (SJL) to support social emotional initiatives within our schools — including the use of restorative practices in response to passage of Senate Bill 100 — and to help create a long-term plan for implementing SEL instruction at all grade levels.

SJL comprises a cross-section of District personnel, including District Office administrators, school administrators, teachers, school social workers, speech therapists and other service staff members. Ms. Kyleen Coia, assistant principal of Elmwood Park High School, has led the group since its inception.

The committee works to provide professional development opportunities for staff members on such topics as SEL concepts and techniques, restorative approaches, classroom management strategies and the effect of trauma on learning.

In 2019, SJL's efforts to incorporate social and emotional learning into the District's classrooms earned the group a Those Who Excel Team Recognition Award from the Illinois State Board of Education.

The success of the Social Justice League reflects District 401's dedication to creating a positive learning environment for all of our students, with SEL as an essential component of their instruction.


SEL Curricular Programs


During the 2018-19 school year, various staff members at the Early Childhood Center, Elmwood Elementary SchoolJohn Mills Elementary School and Elm Middle School began piloting SEL instruction in their classrooms using the Second Step curriculum. 

At the same time, teachers at the high school learned how to use the RULER program for SEL instruction in their respective classes.

Beginning in 2019-20, all classrooms within the District will be implementing an SEL curriculum. Pre-K through 8th grade will focus on implementing Second Step, while the high school will begin incorporating RULER.

All of this is done in support of District 401's core commitment to supporting our students’ social-emotional growth and development in addition to their academic growth and readiness.


District 401's Policy on SEL


Our implementation of SEL curriculum and instruction is governed by District 401's policy on student social and emotional development, which can be found in Section 6:65 of the Board of Education's District Policy Manual.


Learn More with "Parkside Chat" SEL Podcast


To learn more about how we have incorporated SEL into our curriculum and into our everyday practices, we invite you to listen to our "Parkside Chat" podcast on that topic, Episode 3: "Social Emotional Learning," released on Oct. 23, 2018. 

The episode features a conversation with Ms. Coia of the Social Justice League.

Click below to listen. For a direct link to this episode on anchor.fm, please click here.