For many who lead SEL initiatives within schools and districts, whose careers are dedicated to fostering connection and belonging at school, to the development of inter-and intrapersonal skills that support academic achievement and post-secondary success, and to humanizing the education system, the last few years have simultaneously galvanized their efforts and depleted their resilience. Given the reciprocal and symbiotic relationship between student, teacher, and community social and emotional wellbeing, if the increased investments in SEL made over the last several years are to yield the intended outcomes for students, the social and emotional wellness of those leading that work must be a priority.
Whose responsibility is that? Within systems, this is a shared responsibility between the individuals and the system itself. While an individual’s self care practices contribute to their overall wellness, advocating for educators to “just practice self-care” as the pathway to sustained wellness ignores the crucial role of communal care in supporting individual and systemic wellness. Communal care calls for members at all levels of an organization to regularly examine, and take action to correct, systems and processes that contribute to stressors and burnout. SEL leaders and school systems can use the lenses of support, value, and connection to strengthen social and emotional wellness at the individual and organizational level.