SEL and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support

  • What is social-emotional learning?

    Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

    What are the competency areas of social-emotional learning?

    1. Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts, and their influence on behavior. We are looking for a sense of confidence and optimism.
    2. Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. How does one managing stress, control impulses, motivate oneself, and set and achieve goals.
    3. Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Does a student understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and do they recognize resources and supports?
    4. Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communication and listening skills, cooperation, resisting social pressure, negotiating conflict, and seeking and offering help when needed.
    5. Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions. Are students aware of safety concerns, social norms, realistic consequences, and the well-being of self and others?

    What is Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports?

    Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a prevention oriented framework or approach for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students.

    What are school-level PBIS supports?

    • Implementation of school-wide tier 1 practices, including strategies for identifying and teaching expectations, acknowledging appropriate behavior, and responding to inappropriate behavior
    • School-wide, multi-tiered behavioral framework implementation guided by Tier 1 school-wide discipline data
    • Appropriate supports for staff provided, including leadership teaming, supporting policy, coaching, and implementation monitoring
    • What are classroom-level PBIS supports?
    • Tier 1 classroom system for teaching expectations, providing acknowledgments, and managing rule violations linked to school-wide, multi-tiered behavioral framework
    • Classroom management decisions are based on classroom behavioral data
    • Effective instructional strategies implemented with fidelity
    • Curriculum matched to student need and data

    What are the foundations of Effective Classroom PBIS?

    • Effectively design the physical environment of the classroom AND
    • Develop and teach predictable classroom routines AND
    • Post, define and teach 3-5 positive classroom expectations AND
    • Provide high rates of varied opportunities to respond  AND
    • Use prompts and active supervision AND
    • Acknowledge expected behavior with specific praise and other strategies 

    Why do schools need to implement SEL and PBIS?

    We need to implement SEL and PBIS in order to develop the social and emotional competencies of self-discipline, prevent behavior problems, correct behavior problems, and to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all students.

    What are the benefits?

    As is displayed in the graphic below, there are large academic and social emotional gains when schools implement SEL practices, and reductions in the risks for failure. In addition, social-emotional learning provides students with many of the skills employers consider critical to success on the job and predicts employment and wages. 

     Skills for Success


    What steps is the district taking to address Social-emotional learning?

    The district adopted a definition of what it means to educate the whole child. The Barnstable Public Schools educates the whole child by creating a student centered school culture that addresses students’ physical, social, emotional, and academic needs by creating a safe and healthy learning environment in which students are challenged, supported, and engaged.

    In addition, two of the three district’s strategic objectives focus on social-emotional programming.

    • Support the development of the Whole Child through social and emotional programming.
    • Expand collaborative partnerships to support academic, instructional and SEL programming.

    Our SEL programming includes curriculum, instruction, and assessment:

    Universal Curriculum and Instruction: We are addressing social-emotional learning through our Second Step curriculum. Second Step teaches social-emotional skills, such as skills for learning, empathy, how to calm down, problem solving steps, and fair ways to play, to mention just a few. Second Step is currently taught in grades preK-7, with plans to expand it to grade 8.

    Universal SEL Screening: Starting in the Fall of 2017 all students in grades preK-8 are screened for social-emotional competency. Those students who need support in this area are provided with an instructional intervention, and reassessed. This is very similar to how we address academic needs. We are researching a universal SEL screening process for students in grades 9-12.

    What other steps or programs is the district using to support social-emotional learning?

    Each school has developed a positive behavioral support matrix where expected student behavior is clearly defined in all areas of the school, such as classroom, hallway, bathroom, bus, and cafeteria. Not only are the expected behaviors defined, so students know what is expected, but these expected behaviors are explicitly taught.

    We have provided various professional development opportunities to building the foundation of social-emotional learning instruction. In October 2017 we had an all-district inservice training with Dr. Stuart Ablon from Mass General’s Think-Kids program presenting the evidence based Collaborative Problem Solving Model. We are very fortunate that this is a partnership through NAMI Cape Cod. We will also be working with NAMI on phase two of this plan by providing extended training to various staff members who will support this ongoing practice in the schools.

    We are also providing professional development to teachers and administrators on the evidence based Responsive Classroom practices. In November 2017 administrators attended the two day annual Responsive Classroom conference in Boston. We are also in the planning stages of professionally developing an additional 30-60 teachers in Responsive Classroom practices.

    In September 2017 physical education teachers and school assistants were professionally developed in using Playworks, which creates a place for every child on the playground to feel included, and build valuable social and emotional skills.