Education Design

Engagement, Efficacy, Ease-of-Use. Three E’s for Social-Emotional Learning

By Blog, Education, Education Design

As the Entrepreneur In Residence at U Penn’s Graduate School of Education, John Gamba Jr. wrote an article about  building a strong classroom foundation focused on a child’s well-being, before targeting academic accomplishments. He suggests many “SEL” programs fall short of what students need to feel grounded, connected and supported. He offers some reasons why, such as not prioritizing what is exciting from a student’s point of view. He also emphasizes analyzing SEL content along evidence-based standards – referring to the strength of examples such as CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning), the ASCA (American School Counselors Association) and PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). He also empathizes with teachers, cautioning against a learning curve that’s too steep or an implementation timeframe that’s too intense. He encourages, “where SEL is concerned, engagement, efficacy and ease-of-use must go together.  Just because it’s easy to use doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Just because it aligns to standards, doesn’t make it engaging.”


The Gamba Family Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit established in 2006 by John and Mary Anne Gamba with commitment to the power of education.