District News

Letter from Richard Whitehead, M.Ed., Director of Student Services:

Dear Parents, Guardians and Caregivers,

Social Emotional Learning, or SEL as it is commonly known, has become an extraordinarily important conversation in the world of education in recent years. As educators we have become far more aware of the developing need for social and emotional support for all our students at all grade levels. In the previous, 2018-19, school year the district adopted the goal of ‘deepening social emotional wellness’ as well as the companion goal of ‘elevating achievement’. In support of this goal we created an SEL committee as well as a Parent SEL Sub-Committee that met to not only discuss SEL, but also to develop an SEL vision and mission statement for the district. Additionally, we engaged each of our schools in a self-assessment process that examined our current practices and what made sense for the future. All of this work was summarized in a presentation and report to the school committee in June 2019. This information is publicly available on the school department website. The Vision and Mission Statements are detailed below.


The district has also adopted the five core competencies of SEL, as developed by CASEL, to guide and support our work. Each of our school buildings will be developing unique and supportive structures based on these core competencies over the course of the current and upcoming school years. You will hear reference to these competencies embedded in classroom work, in school wide initiatives and in conversations with you, our parents, guardians and caregivers. We will also be reviewing SEL curriculum and exploring ways to survey both our staff and students relative to their understanding of their own SEL competency and strength.


This process will not be concluded in any given school year. We view it as organic, changing and as responsive as possible to the needs of our students, whatever their situation may be. Please review the information below and stay tuned for the launching of the SEL webpage by the end of October 2019.


By following this link to the CASEL core competencies you will be able to see how each of the competencies can be broken down into digestible pieces. There are also links to some great ‘YouTube’ videos that you may decide to view and share with your student or students. We also encourage you to use these competencies as conversation starters in order to gain a more complete understanding of how your student may view their SEL competency.  


Thank you for taking the time to read this information letter. This is a journey we are all taking together in order to find the best possible outcomes for all the students of the Wayland Public Schools.


Richard Whitehead M.Ed

Director of Student Services

Wayland Public Schools

Our SEL Vision

With an explicit focus on social emotional learning, we envision a school district and community that supports students in developing a healthy sense of self and social awareness, embracing diversity with empathy and respect for others, making responsible decisions, and effectively engaging with the world as we strive for both justice and joy.

Our SEL Mission

In our accepting and inclusive community, we want our students to:

● Recognize and regulate their own emotions

● Make thoughtful and healthy decisions

● Appreciate their importance, feeling connected and safe in a responsive environment

● Become clear, confident and effective communicators

● Demonstrate self-compassion in the face of doubt, negativity and challenge

● Self-advocate and understand how to access help when needed

● Show resilience and persistence in the face of adversity, transition and change

● Embrace the culture and individuality of others

● Respect the perspective of others

● Create, sustain and support healthy relationships with both peers and adults

● Develop effective skills for parting and grieving and supporting others in this process

● Solve conflicts and problems in a creative and cooperative manner

● Demonstrate genuine concern about the welfare of others

● Have hope and confidence in their future

What is Social Emotional Learning?
“ Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development.   SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. 

SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation.  SEL can help address various forms of inequity and empower young people and adults to co-create thriving schools and contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.” CASEL

5 Core Competencies Taught Across Diverse Settings
"The CASEL 5 addresses five broad, interrelated areas of competence and examples for each:  self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.  The CASEL 5 can be taught and applied at various developmental stages from childhood to adulthood and across diverse cultural contexts to articulate what students should know and be able to do for academic success, school and civic engagement, health and wellness, and fulfilling careers." CASEL

SELF-AWARENESS: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

SELF-MANAGEMENT: The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation & agency to accomplish personal/collective goals.

SOCIAL AWARENESS: The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, & contexts. This includes the capacities to feel compassion for others, understand broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings, and recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

RELATIONSHIP SKILLS: The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed.

RESPONSIBLE DECISION-MAKING: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being.
















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