Social and Emotional Learning Gains in Palm Beach County

Written by

Celine Provini, PSELI project leader, Prime Time Palm Beach County
Knellee Bisram, SEL specialist, Prime Time Palm Beach County

Prime Time Palm Beach County and The School District of Palm Beach County are entering into year three of a partnership to ultimately gain a greater understanding how we can work together on a larger scale to offer children more opportunities for social and emotional learning (SEL). As we conclude year two, there’s so much to celebrate: record-breaking attendance at a cutting-edge SEL Palm Beach County Summer Institute, productive cross-site communities of practice, including an unforgettable facilitation from the Crossland Group, terrific team-building at a convening in Scottsdale, Arizona, intensive skill-building opportunities during a new OST SEL Academy series and more.

OST SEL Academy training on April 17, 2019,
facilitated by Prime Time SEL Specialist Knellee Bisram

The commitment and hard work of everyone who this partnership has touched this past year has been truly something to behold. Welcoming observations and coaching throughout the year, school-day and afterschool staff were always more than willing to reflect upon and improve their SEL practice. Whether it meant fine-tuning elements of Morning and Afternoon Meeting, squeezing SEL signature practices into staff meetings, finding creative ways for school-day and afterschool program staff to connect, helping non-instructional staff forge positive bonds, adding SEL topics to popular family events or ensuring that site-level data collection proceeded without a hitch, everyone stepped up in numerous ways to ensure our collective effort was a success.

PSELI Convening in Scottsdale, Arizona in November 2018.

Summer camp sites showed their commitment to SEL by attending an out-of-school time (OST) Summer SEL Leadership Planning Session, implementing Morning and Afternoon Meeting , integrating SEL content into science and art activities, blending in Second Step lessons and signature practices and building staff SEL skills at the SEL Palm Beach County Summer Institute workshops.

These efforts have clearly paid off. When 92%  of surveyed staff at participating schools report that SEL professional development has changed the way they interact with children, and a whopping 97% report feeling confident they can help children develop social and emotional competencies, SEL has unmistakably become “business as usual.”

Children are also embracing the change. One third-grade teacher explained: “When a student has forgotten the SEL lessons we previously learned, my students remind them about what it used to feel like before we had a more positive outlook in our school. The peace corner is a wonderful place for my students to cool down, reflect and refocus their energies. I have noticed several students showing more empathy toward each other. They are asking others what is wrong and including others who feel left out. We have a kinder, gentler atmosphere.”

Afternoon meeting at Westgate Elementary Afterschool Program.

In case you missed it, here’s a fun video highlighting some of our year two achievements.