Magazine Feature

Toolkit for The Neuroscience of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Over the last 15 years, social science research has revealed several best practices for teaching social emotional skills. This toolkit provides a resource roundup of current research.

As the author of the article notes, “Brains grow best in the context of supportive relationships, low levels of stress, and through the creative use of stories.” Over the last 15 years, significant research has been done and best practices developed about how to teach social emotional skills. One of the best ways for us as educators and adult mentors to teach these skills is to model them through our communication and the environments we create for students.


Essential Questions

  1. How do students’ noncognitive or social emotional skills impact their ability to learn and succeed academically?
  2. What can educators do to improve students’ social emotional learning in the classroom? 

This toolkit provides a resource roundup of websites, articles, books and podcasts focused on creating environments where students can increase their social emotional skills and learning.



Edutopia’s website provides several sections on social emotional learning with a wealth of research, best practices and adaptable tools to help teachers foster social and emotional learning in the classroom.

Information here includes an introduction to the research on key social and emotional learning objectives and information explaining how fostering these skills can improve student learning. It also highlights and explains strategies and programs that demonstrate positive effects.

These pages include resources from the Jefferson County Public Schools’ districtwide initiative on social emotional learning. They include lesson plans; tips for teachers, administrators and parents; and concrete suggestions for implementing social emotional learning in your school, both in the short term (things to do in a few minutes, days or weeks) and long term (things to plan over months and years).

These pages include blog entries about teaching social emotional learning written by educators doing this work in the classroom.


Project EXSEL: Excellence in Social Emotional Learning 

Project EXSEL, administered by a New York City school district, provides resources and training to implement proven, standards-based social emotional learning curriculum and approaches in their schools. The website is divided into specific resources for administrators, teachers, counselors and parents. The page for teachers includes links to sample elementary lesson plans that emphasize social emotional learning.


How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough:

This book offers recent research on brain development and details how schools and afterschool programs focused on developing persistence skills and providing caring, mentoring environments can help students living in poverty succeed in school and beyond.


Back to School: This American Life (podcast)

This episode discusses recent research on how children’s brains develop (specifically the effect of poverty and scarcity on children’s brain development) and how we can create classrooms and programs that help students from under-resourced backgrounds succeed.

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