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The Power of SEL

The Power of SELThe Power of SEL explores social and emotional learning, otherwise known as SEL, and how it relates to wellbeing and academic achievement. In this five-part podcast series, we share insights from 13 years of partnership between Education First and the NoVo Foundation and celebrate the achievements of over 1,000 grantees. Hosted by Emily Brookhart from Education First, each episode examines why SEL matters and how it works in classrooms, schools, and districts — including practices to engage students and educators and navigate challenges. We’ll also learn together about centering equity in SEL, building consensus and coalitions, and prioritizing student and educator wellbeing as we hear from teachers, administrators, and community leaders deeply involved in SEL.

Several of the people interviewed for these podcasts were recipients of SEL in Action grant awards, managed by Education First and supported by the NoVo Foundation. From 2016-2023 we offered SEL in Action Innovation Awards to individual teachers and school districts to implement innovative social emotional learning practices in their classrooms and schools. From 2022-2024 we also offered Equitable Decisionmaking for Teacher Morale and Retention grants to districts to support efforts to develop a deep understanding of the experiences and challenges classroom educators faced related to social and emotional learning, well-being and relationships arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants also deepened collaboration between educators and school leaders to co-design solutions that would address the root causes of decreased teacher morale and retention in their schools. The SEL in Action grants and Equitable Decisionmaking grant opportunities are now closed, but their impact lives on through the work of educators, school leaders and students. Be inspired by their stories in the Power of SEL podcasts.

Episode 1: What is SEL and why is it important?

In this first episode, we’ll explore what social and emotional learning (SEL) means and what it looks like in practice. We’ll also uncover the many layers of SEL through real classroom experiences, including how educators can use SEL to help students build relationships, develop their self-awareness and self-management skills, and set them up for academic success. Plus, we discuss the importance of equity in implementing SEL practices.

In this episode, we hear from a variety of incredible teachers, administrators and program directors: Dr. Bloodine Barthelus, Ivee Cruz, Danielle DuPuis, Sissy Goff, Alhassan Susso, David Thomas and Miles Williams.

To learn more about SEL, visit:

Episode 2: How are educators implementing SEL?

In episode two, we uncover what social and emotional learning (SEL) actually looks like in our education system. We discuss how educators incorporate SEL into their curriculum and instruction, navigate challenges, and how they sustain and grow their SEL practices. We also hear from educators to learn how students across the country experience SEL in classrooms — benefiting them and their communities.

In this episode, we hear from a variety of incredible educators who have led SEL work as teachers, administrators, district leaders and consultants: Jeffery Austin, Dr. Bloodine Barthelus, Katie Raymond, Trish Shaffer, and Mai Xi Lee.

Click here learn more about CASEL’s 3 signature practices..

Episode 3: How Do Educators Navigate the Facts, Fiction, and Politics of SEL?

Why are states across the country restricting teaching and training practices associated with social and emotional learning (SEL)? In episode three, we dive into the controversies surrounding SEL and chat with practitioners in the field to explore the impact of SEL and why it may be contentious. Throughout, we’ll determine whether the concerns about SEL are valid or if they are simply the result of misinformation fueled by political agendas.

In this episode, we hear from a variety of teachers, administrators, district leaders and organization leaders deeply involved in SEL: Dr. Bloodine Barthelus, Chris Chatmon, Toni C. Gayle, Dr. Sasha Rabkin, Trish Shaffer, Dr. Dena Simmons, and Tina Vasquez.

To learn more about SEL, visit:



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