npes Social Emotional Learning philosophy


Our work around social emotional learning (SEL) is rooted in the belief that when children feel safe and recognized in the classroom, they can excel academically. Social and emotional learning is the process of acquiring the skills to recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively.  Our curriculum is deeply embedded in research and an understanding of the developmental needs of our students at various age levels.  The framework and general structure for social-emotional learning at NPES is based on the research at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).  The five competencies on which we base our work with students are self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills.  

Lower School (PK-5)

Responsive Classroom frames our SEL teaching at the PK-5 grade levels.  This program consists of teaching strategies for bringing together academics and social-emotional learning.  It is based on the three domains of engaging academics, effective management, and positive community.  The guiding principles that define Responsive Classroom are:

  • The social and emotional curriculum is as important as academics.

  • How children learn is as important as what they learn.

  • Great cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.

  • To be successful academically and socially, children need to learn a set of social and emotional skills that include cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control, all of which fit into CASEL’s 5 competencies.

  • Knowing the children we teach - individually, culturally, and developmentally - is as important as knowing the content we teach.

  • Knowing the families of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children.

  • How we, the adults at school, work together is as important as our individual competence. 

In lower school NPES classrooms you will see students socializing and collaborating around academic choice, class meetings that encourage connections, a “time out” area (think spot as we call it at NPES) where students can gather their minds and bodies, teachers speaking in a positive and respectful way, the use of logical consequences, rules that were developed as a community around student hopes and dreams, students reflecting on their learning and thinking about their thinking, and teachers who are modeling expectations and setting clear paths to success.

To learn more about Responsive Classroom, please click here.  


Middle School (6-8)

As students enter middle school and their needs change, they transition into the Advisory setting where our curriculum is authentic and responsive to the nuances of each advisor and advisory group (on average about seven students from 6th-8th grade).  Advisory groups meet twice weekly to discuss relevant hot topics, work on executive functioning issues, experience team and trust building activities, meet independently with the advisor and set individual goals, work with Lil’ Buddies from the lower school, and participate in a service learning project.

The CASEL competencies and The Responsive Classroom domains still frame our work at the middle school level, but the structure is adapted to meet the needs of teens.  While specific goals and learning objectives are set in Advisory, there is more autonomy and freedom to respond to the needs of adolescents, and the specific advisory group.  The academic curriculum is still based on the domains of engaging academics, effective management, and positive community.  As students move from class to class for academic subjects, they find a consistent and common approach that fosters a strong connection between academic and social growth.

To learn more about Advisory, please click here.  

Contact Us

North Park Elementary School 2017 W Montrose Chicago, Illinois 60618
Phone: 773.327.3144      Fax: 773.327.0331