Through a comprehensive focus on SEL, Atlanta Public Schools is committed to the social, emotional, and academic development of students by connecting "hearts and smarts" as part of a systemic whole child framework. APS also recognizes that building the capacity of adults to model SEL skills is at the core of teacher and leader excellence. APS uses the CASEL framework to inform its SEL programming in alignment with the district's strategic plan.
CASEL defines SEL as the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes, to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportative relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions (CASEL, 2020).
SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. SEL can help to address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities (CASEL 2020).
Research has found that students who participate in SEL programming make gains in multiple areas including pro-social behavior, attitudes about themselves and others, standardized achievement scores and social emotional skills. These same students also showed a reduction in problem behaviors and emotional distress. (Child Development, 82 (1), 405-432)
The vision of the SEL Department in Atlanta Public Schools is to have safe, supportive, inclusive, restorative, and equitable learning/work environments where identities are honored, relationships are paramount, the community is welcomed, and well-being is prioritized.
In order to achieve this vision, we will focus on:
Adult SEL Capacity Building
Common Language and SEL Standards
Explicit SEL Curriculum Beginning in Pre-K to 12th Grade
Inclusive, Restorative, and Equitable Learning/Work Environments
Emotional Wellness for Students and Staff
Family, Home, and Community Connection