Why do you believe the SEL field is gaining momentum and how do you hope the upcoming SEL Exchange captures and advances that momentum?
The SEL field is gaining momentum because our collective SEL skills are the most powerful resource we have in building a better world. As a leader who is a woman of color in the SEL space, I know first-hand how critical it is for us to engage in transformation. Transformative SEL is informed by interconnectedness and awareness of structural inequities, while also including practices that are culturally responsive, incorporate student voice, and promote social justice. The inaugural 2019 SEL Exchange seeks to highlight how prioritizing SEL in these ways can be transformative for students, teachers, families, schools, and entire districts. Transformative SEL IS the vehicle for creating a more compassionate, equitable, and WOKE world.
What is the project or initiative you’re working on that you’re most excited about?
I’m the Executive Director of Transformative Educational Leadership (TEL). TEL is an innovative, racially and culturally diverse program for educational leaders who value personal transformation as a pathway to integrating mindfulness-based and equity-informed social, emotional, academic, and ethical learning into schools and school systems. We work with these leaders in creating policies, programs, and practices that seamlessly bring together the fields of SEL, equity, and mindfulness, which are currently siloed in the field of education. Leaders in our program act on the personal and professional aspects of their transformative leadership to impact systemic organizational change in their spheres of power and circles of influence.
At the Exchange you’ll be participating in a plenary session focused on equity and SEL and breakout sessions on cultivating healing school communities and mindful awareness practices. Can you give a sneak peak of a few insights you’ll be sharing in October?
Central to my offering in each of these sessions is the integration of SEL, equity and mindfulness in service of advancing a world built on belonging. Integrating these fields is key to cultivating a sense of belonging both within ourselves and with others. True belonging requires us to build bridges across similarities and differences. The integration of SEL, equity, and mindfulness are the HOW of bridging.
What is one must read book or resource recommendation for educators and SEL field-builders from your library?
Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out by Ruth King. This book has been powerful in my own racial equity journey and it has been informing how my organization invites leaders into doing the important inner work that’s foundational to the collective healing our world needs.