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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

A Breakthrough in Social and Emotional Learning

Two years ago, Louisville, Kentucky, committed to a districtwide CARE for Kids program; now, the positive results are rolling in. Watch an in-depth video.

A Breakthrough in Social and Emotional Learning (Transcript)

Teacher: The swine-flu snake greeting. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning.

Narrator: At Carrithers Middle School, the day begins with goofy games, which are often followed by serious discussions.

Teacher: We've been discussing bullying all week long.

Narrator: The 20 minutes spent in this daily morning meeting is a critical component of Jefferson County, Kentucky's, district-wide Care for Kids initiative, which seeks to build positive, caring learning communities.

Sheldon: There's a pretty complex puzzle that we have to put together to have a successful school, but a foundational element of that puzzle is the culture and climate of that school, and when students feel safe.

Teacher: Hello, sweet girl. You have a good day, okay?

Sheldon: When they feel that culture and climate supports that, when they feel cared about not only by the adults in the school…

Teacher: Got that?

Sheldon: …but by other students in the school, they can do their best.

Teacher: Look at the name and think of something nice to say about that person.

Deirdre: Good morning, Storm.

Storm: Good morning, Deirdre.

Deirdre: I like your humor.

Sheldon: It isn't touchy-feely stuff. It's core social skills that gives students the experience and the knowledge to work effectively with others.

Student: Thanks for always being nice.

Paul: It's teaching kids how to care for one another, how to be a bigger person and how to resolve conflicts.

When the cold wind blows, it blows for whoever has on shoes.

When you give us activities or we able to move, get all our noises out before school and stuff, it gives us more hype about learning.

Alicia: Less instructional time is lost because we're teaching the skills up front, and so that when it is time for academics, we're learning and we're not stopping at various times to address conflicts, and it's teaching the students how to have ownership and have voice.

Joanna: Tell Jasmine what you think is special about her.

Student: I like when you share with me.

Jasmine: Thank you. Caroline?

Joanna: They're excited. They want to be here. I've had parents say, "My daughter's sick today, but she cried, because she really wanted to come to school. What are you all doing?"

Jasmine: Thanks for filling my bucket.

Joanna: How did they fill your bucket today, Jasmine?

Jasmine: Because they was being nice to me.

Richard: Stay in line. Don't run. Don't run.

I like this program and I see this program that's been implemented and it works, because I was here, and I seen it for myself.

See you tomorrow, okay, buddy?

At the end of the day, those kids getting on those buses with a smile on their face. My job is done. I can safely go home and say, "You know what? When they came this morning they had smiles, and when they left, they had smiles. Our job is done, because I'm there."

Your mom's outside. Your mom's right there, Madison.

Narrator: For more information about what works in public education, go to edutopia.org.

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Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis


  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Rob Weller
  • Mark Crowner

Coordinating Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Carl Bidleman

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Comments (5)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Darleen Saunders's picture

Love,love,love to see this! Our students are first and foremost humans with feelings and emotions. School is a marvelous the place to learn how to get along in the world. If we can add social and emotional learning we are closer to teaching the whole child.

Imagine a country where all children are taught compassion for themselves and others. Imagine what they could grow up to be.

Alvaro Ricardez's picture
Alvaro Ricardez
Mexican TEFL teacher in Junior High School at Oaxaca, Mexico

Thanks a lot for this great video...

Aileen Dooley's picture

Is this a national program? I teach Human Relations to high school students with disabilities and are interested in finding out more about this program. Do you have contact information? Thank you.

Lessia Bonn's picture
Lessia Bonn
co-founder I am Bullyproof Music
Blogger 2014

Teaching kids to be kinder and gentler is not as complicated as it seems. What can be complicated is whether or not a teacher is willing to take the time to cover SEL. One teacher told me recently she was warned by the powers that be "If it's not common core, don't teach it."

Well, hello. We are share a common core which is our hearts. Beautiful inspiring video.I agree with Darleen. Just imagine.

Olga's picture

Beautiful program and initiative! We don't realize it now , but in a long run it creates more happy, calm, well adjusted members of the society who respect each other and could work productively together as a group, since they learned/practiced those skills at school. Also probably this program could provide a reduction in crimes, by raising for many their standard of life in general.

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