Amplify AISD Social and Emotional Learning!

The Amplify Austin day of giving ends at 6pm, and so there are hours…YES HOURS! left for you to support social and emotional learning in Austin Independent School District!



Why Invest in Social & Emotional Learning?

The SEL curriculum teaches 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.

A recent national study by Columbia University found an average return of over eleven dollars for every dollar invested in SEL-type interventions.  AISD has received national recognition for implementing SEL successfully in a large urban district. Successes from AISD’s most recent program evaluation include:

  • A 32% decrease in discipline referrals across vertical teams implementing SEL in the past three years
  • For the first cohort of campuses participating in SEL, a significant increase in the percentage of students meeting the state standard on STAAR reading and math

Your support for expanding SEL will equip every student district-wide with valuable skills for success in academics, behavior, and life.


A Shared Mission

Social/Emotional Learning: Explicit skill instruction and concept integration systems that build a culture of inclusion, respect and connectedness in schools and districts.

Restorative Practice: Systems implemented to build personal connection, belonging, equity, inclusive decision-making, and problem solving in a school, district or community.  The basis of restorative practice is the structured circle conference.


I recently had the privilege of attending two intensive workshops addressing Restorative Practice and Restorative Discipline.  The first was led by Sherwynn and Kim Patton, the visionaries leading Life Anew, a local non-profit bringing Restorative Practice to schools and the community in Austin and Manor.  The second was a statewide conference for teachers and administrators presented by the University of Texas Institute of Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialog in partnership with Life Anew.

Life Anew and the Institute are dedicated to Restorative Practice and Discipline via facilitated discussions in the restorative circle.  The circle is an intentional space created to foster belonging and empathy, critical aspects of building relationships and healing harmful conflicts.  The philosophies behind SEL and Restorative Practice are beginning to gain traction in educational policy-making at the state and national level—compelling data from schools implementing SEL and RP show significant reductions in disciplinary referrals and significant increases in academic achievement.


At the most recent training, I told Kim and Sherwynn that I would like to blog about the natural partnership of Social/Emotional Learning and RP/RD in the school system.   I asked if Sherwynn would give me his “elevator speech” about Restorative Practice, and how he thought it relates to SEL.  After we came back from lunch, he gave me the following…which is now AISD SEL Blog’s first Guest Blogger Bloffering!


The Perfect Marriage:  SEL and Restorative Practices

By Sherwynn Patton

At its core, restorative practice helps students and adults connect with one another in a way that promotes the development of empathy, social support, accountability, responsibility and communication skills.  All of these are important within the context of peer to peer relationships, as well as peer to adult relationships.  The way this happens in restorative practice is the promotion of active listening.  Typically, when we converse with others, we are either waiting for our opportunity to be heard or competing for the opportunity to get our point across.  In the restorative process, we learn that everyone receives the opportunity to be heard and that listeners are most important.

This process allows us to develop the social and emotional skills we need in order to be able to develop healthy relational practices.  We use the restorative circle method to create a space where people can develop socially and emotionally.  It actually gives students and adults a real opportunity to measure and use  their social and emotional skill development.  The best way that I can describe the relationship between restorative discipline and social emotional learning is that it is a perfect marriage.


In a perfect marriage, each individual complements the other; there is mutual edification, a clear line of communication, and a shared vision.  Restorative practice and SEL are the perfect marriage—both relationally-driven processes complement each other by using listening as a tool, allowing people to engage socially and discover the reciprocity in every relationship.  We can then work together to establish core values that govern our interactions, resulting in mutual respect and the deepening of relationships.  In short, the marriage of Social/Emotional Learning and Restorative Discipline gives birth to EMPATHY.

I am so thankful that Kim, Sherwynn and the Institute are doing this work, and that I get to learn from their great passion and expertise.  I am excited that Social-Emotional Learning is in partnership with Restorative Practice on the mission to create more just, peaceful, and equitable schools and communities.


“The time to be awesome is now.”

As teacher’s come back to campuses in Austin, we want everyone to get pumped up and inspired for an amazing year!  Share these videos with friends, teachers, students, and anyone else who needs a little encouragement.

A pep talk from the Kid President:

Ten year old, Dalton Sherman, asks: “Do you believe in me?” to all of Dallas ISD.

Do you believe in you? We here at the department sure do!

Like us on Facebook!

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Check out the Social and Emotional Learning Department’s new Facebook page for up to date information on SEL!

Have any ideas? Dying to share a recent success, creative project, bulletin board, or lesson related to Social and Emotional Learning?  We would love to hear from you and we welcome your contributions!

We can be contacted at:

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  -Aristotle



Extra Extra! Social and Emotional Learning Blog, Read All About It!

The Social and Emotional Learning Department premieres the exciting release of their collaborative blog. Where anyone and everyone gets the chance to shine and boast about SEL.

Just so you know, here are the blog posts you can look forward to:

  • December: Peace Areas
  • January: Bulletin Boards
  • February: Campus Wide Events

Have any ideas? Dying to share a recent success, creative project, bulletin board, or lesson related to Social and Emotional Learning?  We would love to hear from you and we welcome your contributions!

We can be contacted at:

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  -Aristotle