We are pleased to introduce you to CASEL, a key resource, locally, nationally, and internationally, in the so important domain of social and emotional development. As the Kirlin Charitable Foundation continues to invest in children, families, and education, CASEL has become a key partner in helping us shape our thinking, direction, and strategies. Please read on, visit their website, and become an advocate for optimal social and emotional learning in our children, families, schools, and communities.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), based at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), was founded in 1994 to provide national and international leadership for educators, researchers, and policymakers to advance the science and practice of social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL defines SEL as the process by which children and adults develop social and emotional competencies, including the skills necessary to recognize and manage emotions, develop care and concern for others, form positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and successfully handle the demands of growing up in today’s complex society.
CASEL pursues its mission by conducting research that advances the scientifically based practice of SEL, expanding integrated, evidence-based SEL practice through training and technical assistance, and strategically communicating about SEL to educators, researchers, families, and policymakers. In its first decade, CASEL has defined the field of social and emotional learning (Elias et al., 1997) and provided the research base for SEL as an essential foundation for children’s caring, connectedness, healthy life choices, and academic success (Durlak & Weissberg, in preparation; Zins et al., 2004). In Illinois, CASEL has been a leader in a movement that has resulted in legislation enacting SEL standards that are transforming school practices and increasing the demand for school leaders who both “walk the walk and talk the talk,” i.e., who possess the SEL skills that are being taught to children and the leadership skills to initiate the second-order change (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005) represented by whole-school SEL implementation.
At a time when we as a nation are holding school leaders increasingly accountable for students’ academic performance, CASEL is working to equip schools with the tools needed to accomplish this goal–the same tools that also build students’ strengths, promote strong character, and prevent harmful behaviors including drug use and violence. Solid research has shown that these are the benefits that SEL imparts to students and schools. SEL programs enhance young people’s emotional, cognitive, and behavioral competencies so that they effectively and ethically handle developmental tasks. They also establish environmental settings and resources that foster knowledgeable, responsible, and caring children who achieve positive academic, health, and citizenship outcomes.