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Riding the Wave of SEL: Social and Emotional Learning Movement Swells

WINGS was born in 1996 - 15 years ago - when social and emotional learning (SEL) was almost unheard of and very newly defined. Just one year before, Daniel Goleman published his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence and a movement began.

Slowly gaining speed, SEL has caught serious momentum over the last five years. What a thrill it's been to ride the wave of advancement and continue to be in good company as research mounts: SEL is a critical piece of education reform.

Here's what we mean:

Ashoka - who strives to shape a global, entrepreneurial, competitive citizen sector: one that allows social entrepreneurs to thrive and enables the world's citizens to think and act as changemakers - launched an Empathy Initiative. Working with their global network of Ashoka Fellows, they plan to create a world committed and equipped to master empathy. They also recently launched an Activating Empathy competition. As part of this competition, WINGS is a finalist for the Mattel Prize for Play! Finalists include innovators who use play as a tool to enhance students' mastery of empathy.

The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotion Learning (CASEL) has begun to focus on building district-level support for social and emotional learning. They believe that social and emotional learning should be a central focus of districts' efforts to ensure high-quality education for all students, and are committed to working with districts to make this possible. Their Collaborating Districts Initiative will support eight large school districts in building capacity for high-quality, evidence-based programming to promote social and emotional learning in preschool through 12th grade. CASEL conducted research on after school programs and the meta analysis showed that after school programs should contain components to foster the personal and social skills of youth because youth can benefit in multiple ways if these components are offered.

The Character Education Partnership (CEP) is an advocacy group for character education based in Washington, D.C. CEP is an umbrella organization for character education, encouraging schools to create educational environments that foster ethical, responsible, and caring young people. The organization works with schools, districts, and states to foster core ethical values. Through its National Schools of Character Awards program, CEP recognizes public and private schools and districts (K-12) as National Schools of Character for their outstanding achievements in character education. Last year, CEP changed the program from an awards program to a school improvement process. WINGS was recently named a Promising Practice by CEP; one out of only 4 organizations (rather than schools) to receive this recognition!

We are so happy to be a part of this incredible movement and proud WINGS has been building field tested strategies for 15 years. Our preliminary research makes us feel confident in our program and the impact we're making in the lives of kids.

Isn't it reassuring to know there are a lot of people working hard to fill the future with kind, compassionate, and trustworthy people? We think so. While others are riding ocean waves, we'll be surfing the SEL wave!

A leader is the wave pushed ahead by the ship.
  — Leo Tolstoy

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