Out Teach Supports Aspen Institute
Commission Recommendations on How Learning Happens
Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
offers path forward

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Supporting the Aspen InstitutesNational Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, national nonprofit Out Teach joined more than 200 education experts and child-well-being organizations in releasing the committee’s report outlining how best to promote children’s social, emotional, and academic development. Out Teach was selected to be a partner organization because the organization equips teachers to unlock student performance with the power of experiential learning outdoors.

The report, titled “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope,” asserts that our nation is at a turning point: We now understand that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpin children’s academic learning. This breakthrough understanding about how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs.

“A Nation at Hope” emphasizes that translating knowledge about how people learn into practice and helping students develop skills such as collaboration, empathy, and perseverance requires systemic change. It offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually reinforcing rather than distinct.

Out Teach CEO, Jeanne McCarty, said “This report synthesizes what experts in childhood well-being, including teachers and parents, have seen for years–that building strong social emotional skills goes hand-in-hand with learning and growth in the classroom. Together, the authors and contributors to this report have laid out both why and how we should ensure every child, regardless of background, develops critical social, emotional, and cognitive skills.”

Out Teach partnered with the Commission as part of its commitment to accelerate learning for children in low-income schools, not just including social-emotional skill-building in their Professional Learning Program, but demonstrating how teachers can use SEL practices to accelerate and deepen learning and achieve existing goals. By providing professional learning to building teachers’ expertise on how to lead experiential lessons outdoors and embed social, emotional, and cognitive skills into the curriculum, the organization help gives children in low-income schools daily access to these important life and career skills for years to come.

McCarty elaborated, “In addition to making Science, Math, and Language Arts lessons more engaging, meaningful, and fun, our professional learning shows teachers how easy and effective it is to enhance lessons by including techniques that boost self-management, collaboration, teamwork, self-directed learning, real-world problem solving, and decision-making. It’s a great way to keep children more engaged in learning. By learning to embed social-emotional skill building into experiential lessons, you strengthen the whole lesson, the whole class, and the whole teaching experience, all by strengthening the whole-child.”

What sets “A Nation at Hope” apart from other reports is the groundswell of support that has surged over the course of the Commission’s work and that now supports action across communities following its release. Out Teach is one of nearly 100 organizations that have signed on in support of the report’s conclusions and recommendations as part of an ever-widening coalition committed to advancing the work.

Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators and policymakers, the report seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts in local communities. These recommendations are especially pertinent as states and communities continue to leverage their increased authority on education policy under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The report includes specific strategies that schools, districts, and communities can pursue related to each recommendation and examples of places that are engaged in these efforts.

The report also outlines evidence that confirms that supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development has a positive impact on their attendance, test scores, success in college and careers, and overall well-being. This approach also improves students’ feelings about school and makes schools safer.

More information, including a toolkit to communicate about social, emotional, and academic development, is available at NationatHope.org.


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Out Teach, formerly REAL School Gardens, provides professional development for elementary school teachers. Out Teach prepares them to use school gardens, outdoor classrooms, and green schoolyards to improve instruction through three-dimensional project-based learning, and outdoor experiential inquiry-based education. Professional learning with Out Teach improves hands-on science and STEM education through instructional coaching and digital education resources and improves 21st Century skills.