Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166


Strategies to Ensure Positive, Anti-racist and Fearless SEL Implementation

The long pattern of racist violence in America directed at African Americans persists--brutally and tragically. As we collectively build an anti-racist Highline Public Schools system, we are reflecting on our own practices and how we can dismantle white supremacy culture. The SEL skills of adults and students, and the school culture and climate in which they are developed, have immense impacts on learning, wellness and safety. The guiding principles of SEL, grounded in the whole child movement, were adopted into standards by OSPI in 2019.

OSPI asserts that SEL implementation must be rooted in cultural responsiveness to be effective and to avoid the tendency for them to be misused to implement the biased, punitive, and exclusionary practices they were designed to replace.

Below we highlight three essential resources to assist you and your teams in reflecting upon and designing SEL supports that are explicitly rooted in racial equity.

Why We Can’t Afford Whitewashed Social Emotional Learning - Deena Simmons (2019)

Assistant Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Deena Simmons encourages schools to teach SEL with a clear awareness of the inequities and injustice that surrounds us. She provides “Five Strategies for Teaching Fearless SEL:”

  • Provide students opportunities to reflect on identity and equity to build self-awareness
  • Enhance relationship skills through debate
  • Develop responsible decision-making skills through community-based projects
  • Use current topics to foster social awareness
  • Explore different expectations for self-management

When SEL is Used as Another Form of Policing - Cierra Kaler-Jones (2020)

Cierra Kaler-Jones argues, “SEL devoid of culturally-affirming practices and understandings is not SEL at all.” She provides a timely critique of SEL being used punitively and urges us to “de-couple SEL from its controlling nature or it will remain yet another tool of oppression.”

Pursuing Social and Emotional Development Through a Racial Equity Lens: A Call to Action - Aspen Institute (2018)

This guide from the Aspen Institute provides timely strategies for implementing SEL with racial equity at the forefront. It reinforces the research link between such practices and academic outcomes, graduation, employment and mental health.

Highline’s SEL team is here to support you with additional professional learning, curricula or implementation coaching. The team is sharing weekly adult wellness strategies, offering virtual SEL sessions for both certificated and classified staff, and providing resources on the SEL Distance Learning Canvas page.

Continue to use #HPSWellness on Twitter to show us how wellness is showing up in your life and to highlight what regulation strategies you are using.