Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Educational Equity




    Through an intentional, equitable, and culturally responsive focus on social, emotional, and academic learning, FCUSD schools will create culturally literate and engaging learning environments where students, families, and staff feel cared for, connected, respected, and inspired.
     Department Mission
    • Eliminate predictability of achievement and engagement gaps based on student's race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression sexual orientation, disability, geographic location, socioeconomic background, language, immigration status, or religion, or other characteristics and any other marginalized groups (board policy number reference 5143.5).
    • Promote cultural literacy through Transformative Social Emotional Learning (T-SEL) in order to build student resilience and prepare students for life and work in diverse communities.
    • Create conditions and remove barriers to T-SEL so that students, staff and families can bring their whole selves to our schools and district departments.
    • Utilizing improvement science, collect and analyze data to drive decisions about SEL implementation to support student learning.
    • Amplify student and family voices as leaders, problem solvers and decision makers.
    • Partner with district departments to integrate T-SEL into day-to-day academic instruction and district functions. 

    What is Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

    SEL Students

    The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) as a process whereby young people and adults build strong, respectful, and lasting, relationships that facilitate co-learning to critically examine root causes of inequity, and to develop collaborative solutions that lead to personal, community, and societal well-being (CASEL, 2021).


    Core features of Transformative SEL include:

    • Authentic partnering among students and adults with a deep focus on sharing power and decision-making between young people, educators, families, and communities.
    • Academic content that integrates issues of race, class and culture.
    • Instruction that honors and makes connections to students’ lived experiences and identities, and scaffolds learning to build an understanding of others’ lived experiences.
    • Enhancing and foregrounding social and emotional competencies needed for civic engagement and social change, such as reflecting on personal and social identities, examining prejudices and biases, interrogating social norms, disrupting and resisting inequities, and co-constructing equitable and just solutions.
    • Prioritizing students’ individual and collective agency to take action for social justice.
    • Focus on creating belonging and engagement for all individuals.


    CASEL Wheel


     Source: CASEL Framework

     Transformative SEL in Folsom Cordova Unified School District

    As part of a focus on teaching the whole child, Folsom Cordova Unified School District has defined a strategy for integrated and explicit social and emotional learning (SEL) opportunities for students and adults in our system. We know from research that social-emotional competence can be achieved in the following ways:

    1. Positive climate and culture focused on empathy, respect, and equity
    2. Direct SEL instruction
    3. SEL integrated into academic lessons and extracurricular activities
    4. Educative and restorative discipline practices that build community and repair harm

     SEL in California

    The California Department of Education (CDE) has also made Social-Emotional Learning a focus for all schools across the state. According to the CDE website, the department  “is committed to helping educators learn more about SEL and how to make this a part of every child’s school experience. To support this work, CDE has joined the Collaborating States Initiative  a group of states that share information, best practices, and promising tools and ideas in the interest of building strong Social Emotional Learning  in schools across their states.  The Collaborating States Initiative is hosted by the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning.

    The CDE has convened a group of experts from different sectors of the education system to advise on the best ways to support SEL implementation. The following are products this team has developed: 

    • Social and Emotional Learning Guiding Principles (full version(PDF) and summary); 
    • Social and Emotional Learning Resource Guide
    • Recommendations for Policy and Practice (final is forthcoming)


    SEL and Equity:

    In the ever changing landscape of teaching and learning in the 21st Century, learning organizations continuously strive towards the goal of equity. By following the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) guide to utilizing SEL as a lever for equity, FCUSD believes that systemic implementation of SEL can be a powerful tool for improving systemic culture, conditions, and competencies across the district in order to better serve children and families.

    • At FCUSD, advancing equity requires intentionality at all levels of our system: district, school, and classroom. An equitable system means enacting policies, distributing resources, and supporting programs such that each school can effectively respond to the diverse needs of its students.
    •  At the classroom level, equity means that each student has a caring and competent teacher who attends to their particular talents, interests and unique gifts so that all students have access to opportunities that will prepare them for a productive life beyond their school years. 

    Furthermore, working towards equity in schools requires that we interrupt inequitable practices, examine biases, and create an inclusive multicultural school environment for adults and children. We will know that we have advanced equity in our system when we have successfully removed the predictability of success or failure that currently correlates with any social or cultural factor.

     While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help when explicitly implemented and grounded in the following beliefs:

    • SEL is relevant for all students in all schools and affirms diverse cultures and backgrounds.
    • SEL is a strategy for systemic improvement, not just an intervention for at-risk students.
    • SEL is a way to uplift student voice and promote agency and civic engagement.
    • SEL supports adults in strengthening practices that promote equity.
    • Districts must engage students, families, and communities as authentic partners in social and emotional development. 
  • Headshot of Dr. Pease

    Dr. Iyuanna Pease
    Director, Social Emotional Learning & Educational Equity

    Kelly Samuelson
    C&I Specialist SEL/Equity

    Joakima Gregg

    Joakima Gregg
    Administrative Assistant II
    SEL/Equity & SI Support


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