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Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.


Waltham Public Schools SEL work consists of multiple initiatives designed to help students build their capacities and skills in the Five Core Competencies.These skills are taught in varying ways throughout our PK-12 curriculum and schools. 


We are also fortunate to have after school, enrichment opportunities and wraparound supports throughout the year within our district and community to support and embed learning and practices SEL skills and competencies in authentic ways.

Additionally, all schools have support personnel including school adjustment counselors, guidance counselors, psychologists, nurses, Special Education/Pupil Personnel and other staff who collaborate with our teachers and building administrators to support students and families’ social and emotional learning needs.

Five Core Competencies

Self Awareness

The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

  • Identifying emotions

  • Accurate self-perception

  • Recognizing strengths

  • Self-confidence

  • Self-efficacy

Self Management

The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.

  • Impulse control

  • Stress management

  • Self-discipline

  • Self-motivation

  • Goal-setting

  • Organizational skills


Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

  • Perspective-taking

  • Empathy

  • Appreciating diversity

  • Respect for others

Relationship Skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

  • Communication

  • Social engagement

  • Relationship-building

  • Teamwork

Responsible Decision Making

The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.

  • Identifying problems

  • Analyzing situations

  • Solving problems

  • Evaluating

  • Reflecting

  • Ethical responsibility

What’s Happening in the District


Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health

Aprendizaje Socio-Emocional (SEL) y Salud Mental

Elementary Schools

Open Circle

Zones of Regulation

Mindfulness - Solid scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness interventions improve attention, self-control, emotional resilience, recovery from addiction, memory and immune response.

Middle School

Health Education Curriculum

PBIS - Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports

Two Schools One Story Summer 2020

McDevitt Middle School

Kennedy Middle School 


High School

Monthly Advisory to build and support trusting relationships and students’ issues/concerns

Health Education

Challenge Day

PE-Project Adventure

ChangeMakers Academy

One School One Story Summer 2020


Training for Staff

SEL Working Group

Meets monthly and is committed to assessing and developing a comprehensive PK-12 integrated SEL curriculum across the district.

Open Circle Training

Provides ongoing training in Open Circle for our elementary educators.

SEL and Equity

Provides ongoing training for staff on the five core competencies and being culturally responsive to the diverse students and families we serve.

More Information About SEL

Our Schools
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