The Intersection of School Climate and Social and Emotional Development

Healthy schools and supportive school environments provide connection, support, engagement, and physical and emotional safety, as well as access to social capital for students. Two related strands of research—social and emotional learning (SEL) and school climate—provide guidance on how to support students in an equitable, collaborative, and healthy environment.

The goal of this paper is to inform an applied research and translation agenda that will support the creation of healthy, safe, nurturing, and developmentally supportive schools that support the development of students’ social and emotional competencies as one mechanism to foster optimal learning experiences and school environments. It is informed by three meetings undertaken as part of a project with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—a practitioner meeting, a researcher meeting, and a synthesizer meeting—and a web-based Delphi survey.

Propositions developed from those meetings center on what is at the intersection of conditions for learning and social and emotional development; how to build conditions for learning and social and emotional competencies in schools; and questions about how to measure these efforts.