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Integrating School-Wide Social Emotional Learning at ICS

Jaretta Konneh

Jul 20, 2023

International Charter School (ICS) in Pawtucket, RI, partnered with New England Basecamp (NEB) to integrate social and emotional learning (SEL) throughout the school. With NEB's support, ICS developed a comprehensive SEL action plan focused on enhancing adult SEL, increasing family engagement, and strengthening behavior support systems. The collaboration resulted in significant improvements in student outcomes and garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, showcasing the impact of SEL implementation schoolwide.

Research shows that when implemented well, high quality SEL programs support students' development in ways that improve their social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes (Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, 2022). International Charter School (ICS), a dual language school in Pawtucket, RI, recognized the importance of integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) into the fabric of their school. They reached out to New England Basecamp (NEB) in March 2021  for support to systematize their Tier 1 strategies and better support students.

To achieve this, Hannah Goodwin-Brown (NEB Director of Systems and Programs), Allyson Abbey (NEB Professional Learning Specialist) and the ICS SEL Team met once a month and created a SEL action plan adopted from the CASEL SEL Rubric. 

The first goal was to enhance adult SEL and socio-cultural competence. By June 2023, ICS's SEL Team planned to have a shared vision for SEL competencies for all stakeholders, along with increased overall scores from 2 to 3 as measured by CASEL’s SEL rubric. With NEB support, the SEL Team drafted a vision reflecting the cultural responsiveness and inclusivity they wanted for their school. They then shared the vision with families, students, and staff via a survey. Parents and students provided  positive feedback, noting a strong sense of community and effective communication, as well as transparent behavior protocols at ICS.

The second goal aimed to increase family engagement, with the SEL Team planning to create a family engagement strategy and recruit at least one family member from each language group to the team. To achieve this, they created a document in multiple languages highlighting how ICS responds to student behavior. They also had a parent join their SEL Team, providing valuable perspectives on effective communication between students and families. The addition of a parent on the team was an essential step in the SEL team structure, and ICS hopes to have more parents, including those who speak Spanish and Portuguese, join the team in the future.

The third goal was to strengthen the school's behavior support systems. The ICS SEL Team identified areas of focus at the beginning of the school year and organized a whole-school professional learning sessions based on comprehensive school data in March 2023. NEB collected data based on location, time of day, week, gender, race, language, and anonymized teacher and student names. This helped teachers and staff to identify specific areas of concern and engage in team discussions on how to provide proactive behavior support to students. As a result, the data revealed a significant decrease in referrals per day from 2.8 to 2.0.

In Fall 2022, NEB assisted  the ICS Behavior Team with the expansion ofTier 2 and Tier 3 interventions using Check-In, Check-Out (CICO). This intervention received high satisfaction  from both teachers and students; students who enrolled in the program saw a significant reduction in their office referrals. ICS plans to expand Check-In, Check-Out (CICO) to every grade level, so all students can benefit.

According to the NEB survey, the partnership between NEB and ICS proved to be highly beneficial, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive response of 95% to 98% of participants. The ICS staff spoke highly of NEB's support, with Maggie Habershaw stating she appreciated “leaving each session with concrete strategies and evidence behind them.” Sol Hernandez expressed after the session “feeling better prepared to welcome students and act proactively in terms of behavior.” Katie Nerstheimer, Director of Special Education, said: “The partnership [with NEB] has been invaluable. They've been gracious thought partners, helping us improve our practices and ask critical questions. Hannah has been working to build capacity and because of her leadership and what she's done with our team, we're able to take it on and make it our own." Nerstheimer

International Charter School (ICS) and their partnership with New England Basecamp (NEB) demonstrates the importance of implementing social and emotional learning (SEL) schoolwide to support students' development. By creating a shared vision for SEL competencies for all stakeholders, enhancing family engagement, and strengthening the school's behavior support systems, NEB has helped ICS make significant improvements in their students' outcomes. 

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