As a result of the current pandemic, many discussions in the educational field shift to how we support learners’ social-emotional needs manifested by stressors inside and outside the classroom. Even though these stressors existed before the pandemic, there is an increasing awareness and interest in how educators and educational leaders might adapt their current practices to include social-emotional learning (SEL). This dialogue is not limited to a particular developmental age. Just last week I met with my doctoral advisor and had a conversation about how, even at the higher-education level, the institution began training faculty members on becoming more in-tune with their students' social-emotional needs.

Why SEL?

Being in-tune with your students’ social-emotional needs is more than discussing how they are feeling. In fact, SEL practices connect to extensive research on brain science. For example, vicarious trauma that individuals experience impacts the way the brain responds to different stressors. People experience trauma at many points throughout their life and are unaware of how it impacts their executive functioning.

For anyone, especially a child, this has dire effects in stressful situations. What might appear as defiance or disrespect from a learner might actually just be the brain's way of trying to regulate and return to a sense of calm through bottom-up modulation. Without an understanding of this process, it is easy to write off these experiences as a disruption and send students out of class. As we know, this has alarming effects on student achievement as they get pulled from class and miss valuable instruction. You can imagine the negative impact on students who frequently find themselves in these scenarios.

How can SEL support MTSS?

We live in an age of data-driven instruction (DDI). Working in a school district, the term DDI is frequently used; there are even districts that devote entire days to DDI analysis protocols of assessment data. As an educator, it is often difficult to engage in these conversations knowing there are other root causes we haven’t looked at and considered. Additionally, it feels as though there are so many students at different levels with varying needs. How could I possibly respond to these needs effectively?

John Hattie’s meta-analysis, discussed in depth in "Visible Learning", reveals and ranks factors that influence achievement; Response to Intervention (RTI) is in the top five. Over time, RTI evolved into Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). While the name has shifted, the purpose remains the same — to provide educators with strategies to support both the academic and behavioral achievements of at-risk students.

SEL InterventionSEL is an important component of the MTSS process. Dysregulated students struggle to learn until they regulate. Adding in SEL data alongside behavioral and academic data allows for a more robust conversation of learners’ needs. It also provides another arena for providing interventions to help students regulate so that they can learn. Additionally, utilizing data from MTSS and SEL allows educational leaders to identify gaps within a larger system. They can then plan professional learning experiences that best support educators with maximizing their impact on student well-being and growth. Finally, weaving SEL into intervention conversations provides an opportunity to address the issue of the overrepresentation of minorities in special education and designated behavioral issues by addressing inherent biases and inequities.

Utilizing data from MTSS and SEL allows educational leaders to identify gaps within a larger system.


SEL has been around for a while but it has yet to be effectively modeled on a large scale in education. Districts provide training, but they may be unsure of how to evaluate the success of these efforts or how to weave SEL into schools’ existing data structures. While many programs exist to support data collection, many do not include a common space for behavior, academics, and SEL. Satchel Pulse provides this unique space where educators and leaders can easily track this data in tandem to support the whole child.

Satchel Pulse provides the information schools and districts need to identify the SEL strengths and weaknesses of students, plan instruction, tailor interventions, and monitor student progress. Supporting leaders of MTSS/RTI from universal screening to diagnostic assessment, intervention planning, and progress monitoring. To find out more book a demo here Click me


Author: Shawna Jensen

Posted: 26 Mar 2021

Estimated time to read: 3 mins

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