Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Leadership Development
Two evidence-based SEL programs are currently implemented in OUSD pre-kindergarten through eighth grade programs, Caring School Community and Second Step. Caring School Community is supported by a partnership with the Developmental Studies Center and a grant from the S.J. Bechtel Jr. Foundation. There are additional programs in OUSD that support these two primary SEL curricula, including Roots of Empathy.
Caring School Community (CSC) builds community among students, faculty, and families with common expectations, language, and structures. Implemented school-wide, CSC improves the school climate, developing a sense of connectedness that can be felt throughout the entire school. In a Caring School Community, students learn to take responsibility for their own learning and behavior. They also learn the shared values of fairness, helpfulness, caring, and respect that are reinforced across the curriculum.
Second Step is a research based curriculum for preschool through junior high students (4 to 14 years old). It reduces aggressive behaviors and increases children's social-emotional competence. Group discussion, modeling, coaching, and practice are used to increase students' social competence, and decision-making, self-regulation, and positive goal setting skills. The program’s lesson content varies by grade level and is organized into three skill-building units covering empathy, impulse control, and anger management.
Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program which has shown dramatic results in reducing levels of aggression and violence among schoolchildren, while raising social-emotional competence. The program revolves around a team composed of a neighborhood infant and parent who visit the classroom nine times over the school year. A trained instructor coaches students to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings. In this experiential learning, the baby is the “teacher” and a lever that the instructor uses to help children to identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. The program is renowned for its success in raising levels of empathy, enabling students to develop more respectful and caring relationships, and reducing levels of bullying and aggression.