Caring School Community

Caring School Community, K–8: SEL and Discipline Reimagined

Create a culture of kindness and respect, where students are treated warmly in a safe and supportive environment.

Caring School Community is a comprehensive, research-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that builds school-wide community, develops students’ social skills and SEL competencies, and enables a transformative stance on discipline.

This CASEL SELect program promotes positive behavior through direct teaching of responsibility, empathy, and cooperation, creating settings where students feel heard, known, and cared for. Students become intrinsically motivated to contribute productively to a community they feel invested in, and where they know they matter.

A large body of research confirms that building a safe and caring school community and attending to social and emotional learning (SEL) are essential to students’ overall success.

This comprehensive program for grades K–8 is in use in 24,000 classrooms, impacting 380,000 students in 326 school districts nationwide.

Caring School Community is built around the following principles:

  • A focus on the whole school community: Community must include everyone: students, parents, school leaders, teachers, custodians, cafeteria staff, yard supervisors, and support staff.
  • Relationships matter: Relationships underpin teaching, learning, and prosocial development. Building relationships and fostering a sense of community are hallmarks of the program.
  • Comprehensive leadership guidance: The program includes everything a leader needs for a successful implementation, including step-by-step guidance and resources to help plan for, launch, and support implementation.
  • A unique stance on discipline: No more gold stars. A focus on community, not compliance. Caring School Community builds on the powerful insight that when students have strong relationships within their community, they are more likely to acquire self-discipline and feel a sense of responsibility to themselves and to others.
  • A year’s worth of teacher-friendly, easy-to-implement, grade-specific instruction: A full 30 weeks of daily, grade-specific lessons across K–8 that only require 30 minutes a day, with a comprehensive scope and sequence to build relationships, social skills, and competencies intentionally over time.
  • Creating calm, orderly learning environments: Through consistent use of effective classroom management practices and structures that build relationships, the program helps teachers create calm, safe classrooms that are more conducive to learning.
  • Robust content for middle school: Grades 6–8 are not an afterthought. The program provides comprehensive Advisory Period lessons as well as guidance for integrating SEL across all subject areas. Lessons address developmentally appropriate and urgent topics for middle school.

The Center for the Collaborative Classroom recognizes that educators will need options that are flexible to support their students’ learning in a variety of circumstances and formats.   The Remote Guidance is designed to support teachers in transitioning from an “in person” format to either a blended or fully remote design.  To support instructional planning, the guidance is organized by beginning-, middle- and end-of-year and provides instructional guidance, essential learning, and at-home activities.