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Success Stories Social-Emotional Learning

Every Child Deserves a Champion: How Denton ISD Approaches Social-Emotional Learning and MTSS


Denton ISDAt Denton ISD (TX), school leaders and staff know that students won’t learn if there are factors in their lives that staff don’t know about and haven’t addressed. That’s why Denton is committed to building students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, providing restorative practices, and understanding where students need more SEL instruction or supports. 

As a large, growing district covering an area with significant socio-economic diversity, Denton needed a way to track students’ social emotional growth over time. Today, the district uses Panorama's SEL surveys to collect student perception data and identify students and groups of students who need additional supports.

“When you see kids progress not just academically, but SEL-wise, that’s such a moving moment. It’s been hard work, but it’s the best work we’ve done.”

Lopez-Daniel– Dr. Daniel Lopez, Area Superintendent, Denton ISD

Learning and Organizing Around SEL

Before implementing SEL, leaders at Denton ISD visited other districts to observe effective practices in action, ran a survey to see where teachers and staff felt they needed more support, and formed four committees. For example, one district committee worked to determine what would be provided as universal, supplemental, and individualized SEL. 

Denton also administered an SEL survey in which students self reflected on competencies such as self-management, growth mindset, and grit. Principals and staff used the results to identify students’ strengths and areas of need.

Download the Panorama Social-Emotional Learning Survey

“We didn’t want SEL to be one more thing teachers had to focus on. We wanted it to be the thing they focused on.”

Lacey Headshot– Lacey Rainey, Principal, Pecan Creek Elementary School

The Journey Continues: Whole Child and MTSS

In addition to developing students’ SEL skills, Denton ISD uses a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework to support the whole child across academics, behavior, and SEL.

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One of the biggest challenges that Denton faces is a high-mobility student population. While students transfer to the new school with their intervention plan, the school often didn’t have the resources or data to continue the plan, and students were slipping through the cracks.

Today, Denton is working to ensure that every staff member who works with a student sees the same intervention data and can coordinate. This allows educators to provide consistent supports across academics and SEL, even if a student moves.

“If we’re all about kids, then we need to be about the whole kid, not just the academic side of them. This mentality has guided us along our MTSS journey.”

Lopez-Daniel– Dr. Daniel Lopez, Area Superintendent, Denton ISD

Topic(s): Success Stories , Social-Emotional Learning

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