Integrating Social and Emotional Learning - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 2, December 2019

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Integrating Social and Emotional Learning

Teacher leading students in a breathing exerciseExcellence teachers at KIPP Ascend Primary (KAP) lead students in a meditation and breathing exercise routine before every single class to start their students off in a positive way. In this video, Dan Gibson, dance teacher at KAP, leads his students in a breathing exercise that allows them to move through any feelings they’ve brought to class, ending with meditation on positive thoughts.

Audrey Marshall, teacher and SEL Chair at KIPP Academy Chicago Primary (KACP) supports the team in providing social/emotional support to students. She provides fellow staff members with techniques, strategies, and environmental tools for promoting social emotional growth and learning. Audrey says:

“I see the social-emotional advisory role as one where knowledge pertaining to the emotional wellness of KIPPsters is driven by data and up-to-date literature, and is disseminated regularly and with useful strategies and techniques that can be implemented within the classroom setting. In addition to generating the monthly newsletter, Social-Emotional Corner, I aim to provide any additional support necessary to directing families toward useful resources for supporting their child. I see this role as a way to also build partnerships between local professionals in various related fields like that of child psychology, social work, family planning, and community health.”

KACP students are introduced to a Mood Chart to better identify how they are feeling. Checking in with students about how they are feeling has many benefits. First, it teaches children how to identify their moods and communicate their needs to adults. Second, when a teacher asks a student how they are feeling, it builds trust and strengthens the relationship. Finally, noticing students’ moods helps teachers identify patterns so they are able to help them navigate through difficult emotional states.


We are encouraging our teachers to use the Mind Yeti and Headspace apps and programs in their classrooms to guide mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness has been defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” Practicing mindfulness has benefits for children and adults as it has been found to support attention development, positive relationships and social connection, and improved emotional awareness.

Pure Edge offers strategies for educators and learners to support social, emotional, and academic development through mindful movement and rest. They also provide a free online curriculum that can be found here. Pure Edge has been a wonderful partner for our teachers on Regional Collaboration Days.


The importance of SEL teacher training is critical and we’ve identified a potential partner for a region- wide implementation of SEL curriculum in the year 2021.

We also will add additional social workers at every K-8 campus in the 20-21 school year to ensure that students’ SEL needs are met.

Additionally, a Wellness Director will be added at every K-8 campus within 3 years to offer support, strategies, and communication techniques for continued SEL training.

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