Social and Emotional Learning: Boston Putting in the Work

On Tuesday, January 22nd school leaders and educators from Boston Public Schools joined their youth program partners for the mid-year convening of the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative (PSELI), an initiative fueled by the Wallace Foundation to help schools and their out-of-school partners improve social and emotional development.


Participants shared best practices and learnings from the first half of the school year.  After-school programs are integrating their school partner’s social and emotional curriculum into their programs, so students don’t view it as a “school thing”, but as a “life thing.”  Schools and their partners are aligning efforts around a “skill of the month” to maintain consistent focus on skill development.  And schools are using data from their own students’ experience to help inform whole-school professional development activities.

This convening occurred one week after the release of the final report from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, entitled From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope.  After two years of research, the Commission provides a thorough overview of the science behind human development, and affirms that in order to develop youth, education efforts must address students’ social and emotional, in addition to academic, needs. The report offers recommendations for communities to shift toward the integration of social, emotional, and cognitive development practices.

The Commission recognizes that much of the difficult work comes in the implementation of coordinated social and emotional learning practices, across all settings and time periods in which students interact with adults and other kids.

“This partnership work can be difficult and time-consuming. It requires collaborative planning, open communication, effective coordination, and a strong commitment to placing young people’s needs, rather than adult concerns, at the center of such efforts.” – A Nation at Hope Report

In Boston, the release of this report prompts reflection on our cross-sector work to meet the needs of the whole child.  It allows us a moment to recognize the hard work – the collaboration, expertise, alignment, and capacity-building – that is being done in our city to make the report’s premise a reality.  We are grateful to our partners who are working through these challenges together to make social and emotional learning an integral component of the student experience.


Additionally, Boston Beyond takes pride in its network of 230 after-school and summer program partners who consistently measure and improve the social and emotional skill development of their students.  Learning from data and from each other, Boston’s out-of-school-time community is well-positioned to support the integration of social and emotional learning into every Boston student’s experience, from the beginning to the end of each day.

Participants in the Partnerships for Social and Emotional Learning Initiative include:

David A. Ellis Elementary School                                           James W. Hennigan K-8 School

Thomas J. Kenny Elementary School                                    Joyce Kilmer K-8 School

Hugh R. O’Donnell Elementary School                                  Michael J. Perkins Elementary School

William E. Russell Elementary School                                   Playworks New England

Boston Scores                                                                         Boston’s Bridge to Excellence

Kenny Cats After School Program                                          ACEDONE

Boys & Girls Club South Boston Edgerley Club                   Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester

YMCA of Greater Boston                                                        Boys & Girls Club – Hennigan