As the prominence of social and emotional learning (SEL) to support students’ development in school and beyond continues to grow in education circles, challenges implementing SEL programming have also arisen. The latest issue brief in a series supported by The Wallace Foundation, Kernels of Practice for SEL: Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies, offers a valuable approach to lower barriers that programs may face when looking to incorporate SEL programming.
The issue brief delves into the approach of identifying “evidence-based prevention kernels,” which are low-cost, targeted strategies at a specific behavior. The authors of the brief posit that kernels have a stronger impact and are more feasible to implement than comprehensive programs, “potentially increasing initial uptake, impact, and sustainability over time.” For instance, one example authors give of a kernel is the practice of the “turtle technique,” where an adult uses the turtle metaphor to instruct a student to breathe in deeply to help calm down. This kernel maps to the SEL domain of managing emotions and behavior, as the technique can help reduce aggression.
What’s innovative about this issue brief is its focus on creating an accessible approach to SEL practice and recognizing afterschool and summer learning programs need flexibility in order to effectively incorporate SEL practices into their programming. By illustrating the way in which kernels can help programs tailor strategies and activities to best address the needs and goals of their students, the brief is a great example of using research to inform practice.
In addition to reading the full brief, you can take a look at Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out, a guide that provides an in-depth look at 25 leading SEL programs and is what Kernels of Practice for SEL: Low-Cost, Low-Burden Strategies drew from to identify the kernels of practice.