Post-Pandemic Schooling Emphasizing Social Emotional Learning

by: Sean Crowley and Andrea Mainelli | Papers |Oct 21st, 2021

As students return to a more traditional “brick and mortar” school setting following a year of learning in a predominantly remote setting, school leaders are confronted by the overwhelming impact of the pandemic on student mental health and well-being. Not surprisingly, many school districts have responded by placing increased attention on the value of social emotional learning (SEL), according to the “Finding Your Place 2021: Social Emotional Learning Takes Center Stage in K-12” report from Tyton Partners, in collaboration with The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

The company recently surveyed almost 2,000 school and district leaders, more than 100 product suppliers, and interviewed various SEL providers and practitioners to track the continued development of the field of social emotional learning, understand the effects that COVID-19 and rising awareness of racial injustice have had on SEL in the classroom, and to gain a more holistic view of SEL ecosystem health on both the supply- and demand-sides. This report follows on Tyton’s 2020 first of its kind report which mapped the SEL ecosystem taxonomy and identified key demand and supply drivers in this nascent market.

“Schools are grappling with an urgent need for new approaches to better support the mental health and well-being of their students after returning from a year plus of remote learning,” said Sean Crowley, Senior Principal at Tyton Partners. “Despite committing record-level spending on SEL during the past year, implementation of high-quality, formal programs and practices is still emerging.”

Other findings include:

  • SEL adoption and spending has risen rapidly since the beginning of pandemic – spending grew approximately 45 percent to $765M in just over 1.5 years
  • Student mental health and well-being is a top priority across schools and districts – schools and districts see SEL as a critical solution for addressing racial injustice and a variety of academic and non-academic challenges in the post-pandemic era
  • Agreement on a shared definition of SEL and best implementation practices remains elusive – the SEL field is still working to coalesce around a definition of quality and needs viable pathways to increase meaningful adoption
  • A healthy supply-side and a still emerging demand-side are at odds, threatening the long-term sustainability of SEL in K-12 – despite the rapid growth of the past year, adoption of more formal programs and practices is still emerging; schools and districts will require continued encouragement and guidance to continue scaling and deepening adoption

“Schools and districts are in uncharted territory and will require continued encouragement and guidance to scale and deepen adoption of high quality SEL,” said Andrea Mainelli, Senior Advisor at Tyton Partners. “All of the people serving K-12 students need to do more to close the gap.”

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