Supporting Social and Emotional Learning with Student-Led Clubs

Orange County Public Schools, Florida

Orange County Public Schools, with support from CDC, implemented new social-emotional learning (SEL) clubs to give students opportunities to develop social and emotional skills and build connections with peers and trusted adults.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) teaches young people the skills to recognize and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. It is associated with decreases in suicide ideation and attempts, as well as increases in social and emotional skills, attitudes, behaviors, and academic performance.

Ensuring students are connected to their schools and families is an important protective factor to reduce risk factors that can lead to poor mental health, substance misuse, violence, HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy.

Social and emotional learning can help students build relationships with parents, teachers, coaches, and staff.

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To expand opportunities for social and emotional learning and connections to peers and trusted adults, Orange County Public Schools designed student-led SEL Clubs that will be hosted in every secondary school in the district.

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Between September 2020 and February 2021, clubs took off in 29 of 47 middle schools and 12 of 20 high schools. Across the district, students lead each meeting with the purpose of building environments in which the value of each person is recognized.

In addition to providing safe and supportive environments for students to express themselves and practice important social and emotional skills, SEL clubs give students opportunities to foster their sense of purpose, self-esteem, and agency.

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Orange County Public Schools serves more than 100,00 middle and high school students. The district will continue to expand SEL Clubs across more middle and high schools to support as many students as possible with social and emotional learning and connectedness.