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Media Advisory/Press Release

Educators Gather Today to Increase Social and Emotional Learning in K-12 in Mass. Public Schools

Will Discuss Latest Findings on Positive Impact of SEL on Academics, Social Behavior and Life

November 18, 2011–Boston (West Roxbury), MA–Today, November 18, more than a hundred educators will meet to discuss how success in academics and life are irrevocably entwined with the ability to manage emotions and interact with other people, an educational process called social-emotional learning (SEL). The purpose of the conference is to enhance awareness of and commitment to SEL in our schools, where the increased focus on standardized test scores has often placed SEL on the back burner. The conference will take place at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology at 221 Rivermoor Street in West Roxbury.

The program is jointly sponsored and organized by MSPP and Teachers 21 and by an alliance of organizations advocating for increasing this type of learning in the schools. These organizations believe, and evidence supports their belief, that a systematic and comprehensive approach to fostering social and emotional learning will also decrease bullying, substance abuse and other anti-social behavior, which if not addressed in childhood, could lead to long-term individual and societal costs.

“SEL is a child’s ability to regulate his or her emotions and behaviors, use effective problem-solving skills, and demonstrate pro-social and cooperative behaviors,” says John D’Auria of Teachers 21. While many models exist for this type of learning, a majority of school systems struggle to prioritize SEL programming due to the overwhelming demands for academic achievement. Ironically, the increasing evidence linking SEL programming and academic achievement may be what ultimately allows school districts and administrators to reallocate funds to support SEL initiatives.

The SEL Leadership Conference at MSPP aims to disseminate the most recent research on SEL programs with numerous local school districts and school administrators to help raise awareness and build momentum throughout the state.

Representatives of 12 school districts, including Boston, Newton, Needham, North Andover, Canton, Hudson, Chelsea, Saugus, Winthrop, Wrentham, among others, are expected to attend. Also attending will be representatives from Harvard, Simmons, Wellesley, BU, MSPP, BC, Tufts and other schools of higher education that train teachers.

A highlight of the meeting will be a presentation by Dr. Roger Weissberg, an international expert in SEL, who will discuss practical ways that participants can implement consistent ongoing programs in their schools. Weissberg is a professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Illinois and president of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

Conference planners have encouraged teams from each school district to come and get involved. The teams consist of administrators, superintendents, principals, mental health professionals, teachers and other stakeholders who can work together and have the joint authority to create and roll out viable programs, according conference planners.

“We hope that this will be the first of several conferences this year that increase momentum around this issue,” says Dr. Nicholas Covino, president of MSPP, who adds that the proposal to launch the SEL Alliance for Massachusetts (SAM at www.SEL4Mass.org) will also be discussed and participants will be asked to join the alliance and pledge their support

About Teachers21—Teachers21 was founded in 1993 as a non profit organization. Through it work across the New England area, it has become a highly respected state-wide organization known for its professional development, public policy work, and educational research. The mission of Teachers21 is to ensure that: 1) effective and caring teachers support every student to learn and achieve at high levels and that 2) skillful and persistent leaders provide knowledgeable and insightful guidance for every school and school district. For more information, please visit www.teachers21.org.

About MSPP—Founded in 1974, MSPP has created and offered a unique approach to doctoral training for psychologists focusing on the immediate integration of clinical experience with academic studies. The school’s mission is to bring benefits of psychological training to other areas of American society, including schools, the workplace and the courts.

Updated 11/22/11

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