Holding the Line: Sustaining an SEL-Driven Whole-School Approach in a Time of Transition

Jonathan Kasler, Maurice J. Elias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Recently, a growing body of research has focused on the sustainability of evidence-based interventions aimed at promoting the social emotional and character development of children (SEL) and preventing or reducing problem behaviors in schools. Current discussions of systemic reform in the education system address the capacity of individual schools to adopt innovations and maintain them despite inevitable environmental changes. A small elementary school in northern Israel embarked on a radical change in its pedagogic style, intentionally adopting a holistic SEL approach. After 3 intensive years of training and implementation supported by the local community and involving all major stakeholders, a series of events threatened to weaken the chances of sustaining the approach. In a qualitative research study, data were collected primarily through in-depth interviews with full-time faculty members. Constant comparison analyses were performed. The results illustrate the salient concerns and benefits of attempting such a radical change through the eyes of the faculty members. The depth of identification with SEL among faculty and other stakeholders is shown to be the basis for sustaining the SEL approach in spite of difficulties. This narrative of events demonstrates the obstacles encountered on the road to approach sustainability. This identification of possible challenges is valuable to those introducing change in the school environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-246
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Educational and Psychological Consultation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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