In New Brief, Teach Plus Teachers Call on Massachusetts Lawmakers to Fund and Support Social Emotional Learning

In New Brief, Teach Plus Teachers Call on Massachusetts Lawmakers to Fund and Support Social Emotional Learning

BOSTON, MA—In a new policy brief, Supporting Social and Emotional Learning for All in Massachusetts Public Education, Teach Plus Massachusetts Policy Fellows call on their state policymakers and district and school leaders to support students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) needs through increased funding and teacher training and professional development.  The Fellows, who teach in a wide variety of traditional public and charter schools, also recommend that the state develop new SEL guidelines and curriculum options.

“As frontline educators, our Teach Plus Policy Fellows know what it takes to meet the needs of their students.  Academic success is essential; however, students will not achieve their fullest potential unless we address the needs of the whole child, including their social and emotional growth,” said Paul Toner, Executive Director of Teach Plus Massachusetts.

“Teachers need the tools and strategies to support students socially and emotionally, so that students may be available to learn and grow academically,” said Mary Mara, a preschool teacher at Chandler Magnet School in Worcester, MA and one of the brief’s authors.  “Our policy brief details potential ways to support and fund SEL professional development for all public educators in Massachusetts.” 

The teachers’ recommendations bolster the provisions in the SEL-related legislation that is currently moving through the Massachusetts House or Representatives, and the findings in the report, “Promote Prevent:  A plan to promote mental, emotional and behavioral health and to prevent behavioral health issues in our Commonwealth,” by the Special Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention.    

The recommendations are:

  1. Support teacher candidates and statewide educators with SEL tools, strategies, and professional development opportunities and develop a statewide criteria of what SEL trainings should encompass.
  2. Ensure all Massachusetts schools have SEL Ambassadors and ongoing SEL professional development.
  3. Provide supports and increased staffing to address students’ emotional challenges.
  4. Develop guidelines for schools and districts on how to strengthen SEL through family and community engagement. 
  5. Research and recommend evidence-based statewide SEL curriculum options for all Massachusetts schools.

The Fellows unveiled their brief at a July 25 event entitled “Educator Perspectives and Promising Practices in Social Emotional Learning,” which Teach Plus held jointly with The Rennie Center and Transforming Education.  The teachers shared research and instructional practices with over 100 classroom educators and school leaders to help them implement supports for student social emotional learning. The event culminated with the teachers providing recommendations to the Massaschuttes Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on how best to move forward with SEL-related work.

“Seeing teacher leadership in action at this convening was inspiring. It left me with lots of new ideas for how best to support my students’ social and emotional growth–and energized me for the year ahead!” said Sydney Chaffee, a 9th grade humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, MA and 2017 National Teacher of the Year.

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success.  Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students.