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How One District is Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Its Schools

Students in algebra class at Jason Lee Middle School gathered in small groups to teach each other how to work through a complex math problem. Some of them stood. Some sat at desks. And some pedaled away on stationary bicycles.

In the front of each group, one student stood at a white board, circling the part of the problem he or she didn’t understand. The other students asked questions until they could navigate their classmate to the right answer.

As these Tacoma middle school students worked together on math earlier this school year, they were learning relationship skills, how to communicate effectively, and how to press through frustration, said Principal Christine Brandt. And, hopefully, the end result would be a deeper knowledge of concepts like order of operations than they would get through a traditional classroom lecture.