Thank you for joining us at the inaugural Social and Emotional Learning Exchange!

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) hosted the first SEL Exchange on October 2-4, 2019,  in Chicago. The SEL Exchange sold out within two months, and attracted 1,500 leaders and experts from 30+ countries committed to SEL. 

The 2019 SEL Exchange featured: 

  • Leaders who catalyze the SEL movement,
  • 6 plenary sessions, more than 400 presenters in 117 breakout sessions,
  • 130 poster sessions, three day-long pre-conference institutes, seven breakout sessions with youth presenters, and,
  • 11 breakout sessions for those interested in SEL assessments.
In addition, throughout the three days, 50 exhibitors shared their quality SEL programs, tools, products, and services; featured demonstrations at an SEL Town Hall; an SEL library; SEL interactive activities; and many other experiences.

Keynote:  David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks reflected on the need to better connect and see each other as human beings with shared values and aspirations. “Joy is when you see someone else and someone sees you,” he said, noting that SEL skills are needed not only in schools, but in the broader society as well. He congratulated CASEL for “pioneering and leading a revolution in treating people as whole people, with souls and hearts, who can know and be known.” 

Join us at the SEL Exchange 2019, a national gathering for all  those seeking to understand, experience and apply the latest developments in social and emotional learning. 
Join us at the SEL Exchange 2019, a national gathering for all  those seeking to understand, experience and apply the latest developments in social and emotional learning. 

25th Anniversary Dinner

The CASEL founders recalled the origins of CASEL and the social and emotional learning (SEL) movement 25 years ago--the coming together of educators, youth development experts, philanthropists, and a journalist to create what became a field much bigger than any of them dreamed at the time. As one of them said {I think it was Goleman, does anyone recall?]. “We created a small rudder that turned a much larger rudder on a very big ship.” The seven founders expressed their hopes for the future:

  • Dan Goleman (Emotional Intelligence): “The Greta Generation is facing a bleak environmental future and is trying to teach the system to save the planet for themselves.”
  • Mark Greenberg (Penn State): “Skills are critical, but the next phase of the movement must be about systemic transformation.”
  • Eileen Rockefeller Growald: “Parents need more attention and support. It can’t all be left to teachers.”
  • Linda Lantieri : “We need to more intentionally build a collective consciousness.”
  • Tim Shriver (Special Olympics and CASEL): “SEL is not just for improving culture. We need an SEL for politics now.” David Sluyter (Fetzer Institute): “How can we help generate a sense of wonder and awe?”
  • Roger Weissberg (CASEL): “We correctly prioritized academics, but maybe the pendulum has swung too far. We need to focus more on workplace readiness, civic engagement, and social justice.”

Plenary: The Global Movement

Panelists discussed the encouraging global expansion of SEL, how implementation differs by country, and the challenges and opportunities of scaling programs and practices across the world while preserving and strengthening quality. Some key takeaways:
  • In some form, SEL has existed forever in the work of healers, religious leaders, and others. What’s new is the rise in evidence-based SEL and the growing use of measurement to determine what works.
  • Make use of technology to help scale (after all, India has 250 million students in K-12 schools), make sure teachers have the knowledge and skills to teach their students well, and support the growing ecosystem of educators from around the world. “Take comfort that you’re part of building a global movement,” said Louka Parry (The Learning Future).
  • Appreciate that SEL shares common values and perspectives globally, but that implementation priorities will differ by country. For example, in Japan students learn SEL by helping to clean classrooms, while in Uganda, the priority is to reduce the use of corporal punishment, according to Koji Miyamoto (World Bank).

Plenary: Civil Society, Citizenship, and SEL

Panelists discussed how to channel the enthusiasm for SEL’s common-sense solutions into a sustainable movement. Some key takeaways:
  • Educators must listen to the students and empower them to take charge of their own learning. “Our job is to prepare students to participate in our democracy,” said Janice Jackson.
  • SEL advocates must avoid the traps that hobbled recent efforts such as the Common Core academic standards, when supporters mistakenly took a top-down approach that failed to get sufficient understanding and buy-in from teachers and parents.
  • SEL is not a red-state or blue-state issue, but a common-sense, non-ideological approach to education and youth development. “This is a grassroots, bottom-up movement that has bipartisan support,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).
  • Don’t overpromise. “I’m optimistic because this makes sense, but don't put too much weight on SEL to solve all of America’s challenges,” warned Rick Hess (American Enterprise Institute).

Plenary: The Future of Work

Panelists discussed what it will take for schools to address the needs of employers, who increasingly value skills not typically taught in traditional K-12 programs. 

Plenary: Building a Culture of Equity Through SEL

Panelists discussed how SEL can address issues such as privilege, power, race, social justice, community, and help build a new system of schooling that serves all children. Some key takeaways.

  • SEL is a tool to help adults and students have courageous conversations about issues such as race, white privilege, and the power dynamics that have dispossessed minorities for centuries. But be careful of overpromising. As Dena Simmons (Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence) observed, “You can’t SEL away oppression.”

  • Creating a “beloved community” is not a zero-sum game, but can be transformational for society’s haves and have-nots alike. “This is a huge opportunity for people of privilege to live for something larger than yourself—to have fulfillment,” said Roberto Rivera (7 Mindsets).

  • The concept of “transformational SEL” goes beyond “personally responsible SEL” and “participatory SEL” to address social justice and the underlying cultural and political structures that have long promoted inequities (race,class, gender, etc.).

  • Seeing and nurturing the connections among all of us, what Meena Srinivasan (Transformational Educational Leadership) calls “interbeing,” hcan lead to a collective paradigm shift in how leaders lead and schools teach.

Plenary: Reimagining Boys in the 21st Century

Panelists addressed the reality that boys have feelings, too, and profiled several inspiring efforts to help them express those emotions constructively. Some key takeaways: The old stereotypes -- “be a man,” “man up,” and “boys will be boys” — are not okay. Boys and young men need the permission, space, and support to unveil their vulnerabilities. Boys and young men are eager to make connections, be heard, and tell their stories. Adults need to listen and create environments where it is safe to reveal what is behind their everyday masks, as Ashanti Branch’s 100kMasks Project is doing. Storytelling is a powerful tool for catharsis and growth. “Stories can dispossess and malign. Or they can empower and humanize,” said Niobe Way (NYU).

Closing Keynote:  Tim Shriver

SEL Voices

  • Ananatha Duraiappah (UNESCO): “Listen to the consumers (the children) more. They are not too young.”
  • Janice Jackson (Chicago Public Schools): “Our job is to prepare students to participate in our democracy.”
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio): “This is a grassroots, bottom-up movement that has bipartisan support.”
  • Ashanti Branch (Ever Forward Club): “The 100kMasks project is not trying to fix boys’ problems, but to create a safe space for them to do something about it.”
  • Meria Carstarphen (Atlanta Public Schools): “10 out of 10 students have dreams, and we can absolutely help them achieve those dreams.”
  • Taryn Ishida (Californians for Justice): “We all need to work with students, not for students.”
  • Dena Simmons (Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence): “Let's use SEL to have courageous conversations, but you can’t SEL away oppression.”