Learning from the Field Memo

With Learning Forward PA

We invite you to learn with us!

The Learning from the Field with Learning Forward PA Memo is designed to keep school & district leaders, teachers and instructional coaches well-informed on current educational news and best practices. Educators are busy, so this memo provides a one-stop shop for educational news and resources meant to inform and push professional practice. This issue is dedicated to Social and Emotional Learning known as SEL.

Learning. That is what school is about, right? Regardless of our role in the education system, we all care that students learn. Worthwhile learning today, though, focuses on far more than just "reading, writing, and arithmetic." Learning that matters is understood today to include mastery of social and emotional skills in addition to academic ones.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

To date, there have been limited efforts to address SEL in many schools and school accountability systems. In our home state of Pennsylvania, for example, attendance rates are included int he multiple measures of school success. Is simply having students in school a truly valid measure of school success?

Some schools who have adopted SEL, do so in a compartmentalized way where they seem to think that standalone lessons delivered once a week with little follow through will suffice. For a school to truly embrace SEL, classroom teachers and administrators need to intentionally use examples, tools, and strategies integrated into the academic mainstream of learning. Explicit instruction focused on the social and emotional aspects of learning will result in improved academic learning and reduced suspensions and expulsions.

Whether your school or district uses a commercial program or homegrown resources, you need to take advantage of the many opportunities academic learning presents for an integrated SEL approach in your school.

Kind regards,

Donna Spangler (Learning Forward PA Co-President)

Educational Highlights

Call to Action: Integrating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) should be Standard Practice

As more practitioners and researchers recognize the importance of addressing students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools, we can’t leave to chance the professional learning needed to make these efforts effective.

From Learning Forward's Stephanie Hirsh, The Learning Professional.

Click here for Full Posting.

The Wallace Foundation: SEL Implementation Guide

The Wallace Foundation created an SEL Implementation Guide to help educators navigating the social and emotional learning (SEL)terms, practices, and curriculum programs.

A research team headed by Harvard education professor Stephanie Jones provides an overview of 12 social-emotional skills and 17 common SEL instructional practices, as well as tools to evaluate curriculum needs and compare the features and methods of 25 evidence-based SEL programs.

From The Wallace Foundation

Click here for the full SEL Implementation Guide.

The Future of Education Depends on Social Emotional Learning: Here’s Why

Social and emotional abilities are said to be indicators of how well a person adjusts to his or her environment, adapts to change and, ultimately, how successful she or he will be in life. In fact, core development abilities such as conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness and agreeableness can be as or even more important than cognitive intelligence in determining future employment. Despite these competencies being related to consequential life outcomes, it can be challenging for educators to find effective ways to prioritize, teach and assess social and emotional skills.

From EdSurge by Giancarlo Brotto

Click here for the Full Article.

Educational Challenges & Solutions


There are few people in this world who will disagree with you when you ask them if we should be teaching our students how to be more kind, patient, committed or humble, but it’s not everyday that you come across a school that builds their master schedule with one teacher whose full-time job is to teach students what solid character looks like. Inglewood Middle School is doing just that and has data to support the fact that it is changing their school’s climate and culture for the better...

From John Norlin's Blog

Click here for the Full Blog Post

SEL: Creating Safe & Supportive Learning Environments

Creating a safe, supportive environment for social and emotional learning (SEL) has been, and remains, a high priority for CASEL. It is inherent in our focus on integrating SEL into all aspects of school and district practice through a systemic approach.


Look below for a brief video [1:48] by CASEL (December 11, 2018)


CASEL Resource Library and Site

CASEL offers a comprehensive collection of high-quality social and emotional learning (SEL) tools and resources to inform and support educators, researchers, policymakers, and parents who are leading this work in the field. Resources have been selected by CASEL staff, consultants, school district partners, field collaborators, and others.


Click here for the CASEL Website.

Learning Forward PA Day of Learning

Tuesday, Oct. 29th, 8:30am-3pm

Spooky Nook Sports, 75 Champ Blvd, Manheim, PA, 17545 USA

Come join us to hear John Norlin address the importance of cultivating a culture of character and developing social-emotional skills in your students and your school.

The research shows that when a school takes the time to cultivate a culture of character and develop social-emotional skills, students perform better and want to be there, and bad behavior goes down. Explicit instruction focused on the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEL) will result in improved academic learning.

The event costs $150.00 (early bird pricing right now) and the price includes a continental breakfast, buffet lunch, and conference materials.

You can register online at our LPFA Website.

Please register soon if you would like to attend!

Who is John Norlin and what is CharacterStrong?

This year LFPA is honored to have John Norlin from CharacterStrong join us to run an interactive workshop on SEL. Presenters from CharacterStrong have spoken to a combined 1000 schools and events across the country.

John is the Program Administrator for Student Leadership & Community Involvement for the Sumner School District, a Servant Leadership trainer, and motivational speaker. He was Washington Advisor of the Year and taught 5 leadership classes per semester for 10 years at Sumner High School.

John is part of the CharacterStrong Team. The CharacterStrong Team is a partnership of educators, speakers, and students who believe in creating sustainable change in schools and helping young people develop the skills of service, kindness, and empathy. CharacterStrong is an organization that provides curricula and training to help educators more effectively teach the Whole Child and create positive and safe school cultures.

Attendance at this day of learning interactive workshop will provide you with a plan, ideas, and activities to weave character, relationship-building, and SEL into what you are already doing.

We are also honored to have one of our very own board members, Dr. Chris Clayton, working closely with John at this LFPA workshop.

Subscribe to the free CharacterStrong Blog

Please click on this link if you would like to subscribe to the free CharacterStrong Blog.

On their blog, you will find inspiring and practical stories of educators implementing character development & social-emotional learning in their classrooms, CharacterStrong resources, case studies, and more.