It takes months of planning to fully implement an SEL program at a school or district. This is commonly due to funding hurdles, confusion on integration strategies, and a need to identify students and teachers who will participate in the program. Sometimes, there is resistance from staff members who feel burdened by the upcoming changes. It can be a difficult, stressful process, but the end result is more than worth it.
As your school prepares to implement an SEL program like WhyTry for the first time, there are a few important steps to keep in mind.
One of the most effective ways to get educators and staff members involved with the implementation of your new SEL program is to host a training, staff development, or exposure meeting. This creates excitement within the school climate, helping your staff to understand the importance of the intervention as well as answering their individual questions and concerns.
Provide educators with the program's research, positive proven outcomes, experiences from other districts, access to the program's website and resources, etc.
For administrators and staff, struggling to shuffle an already busy schedule will cause anxiety and frustration. At this point, the best defense is a good offense. Make a comprehensive integration plan, receive basic feedback, and adapt until your plan is set. Questions to consider include:
- How many students will be involved?
- How many facilitators will the program require?
- How large should SEL class sizes be? (This will vary among at-risk and school-wide Tier 1 implementation)
- Will SEL be a part of the regular curriculum or will it be used as an after-school program, counseling tool, separate class, etc.?
- What resources do we need (projectors, spare classrooms)?
- How much time will we have? (Recommended 10-60 mins depending on age)
If you have questions about this step, contact our experienced team to help you set a plan that will work for your school or district's unique needs.
It is VERY important that parents be involved in the SEL program as much as possible. When parents are excited about the program, they may feel a desire to reinforce lessons at home, dramatically impacting the program's success. (See Involve Parents in the WhyTry Program: 3 Tips to Get You Started)
Never plan to implement an SEL program without following through with support along the way. Facilitators will have questions as different situations arise. Be sure you offer resources that can/should include additional trainings and staff developments. Check in often, ensuring educators are comfortable with the program. Use assessments sparingly to track progress. Help facilitators get in touch with program trainers.
If you have questions about implementing an SEL program like WhyTry at your school or district, contact us.