Social Emotional & Character Education

Achieving Success in Social Emotional & Character Education

All students have social, emotional, and behavioral learning needs.

Social, emotional, & character education is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Research shows social, emotional, and character skills are enabling factors that allow students to execute learning and are the best predictors of life success.

Building future success starts with developing a child’s social, emotional, character,  behavioral and academic aptitude from a young age. An extensive body of rigorous research demonstrates that “when social, emotional, and academic development are deliberately and thoughtfully interconnected, students benefit from learning experiences that enrich their understanding of academic content and strengthen their critical thinking skills” (Berman, et. al., 2018, p. 4). School environments that intentionally embed evidence-based social and emotional learning practices and programming show higher levels of academic achievement, positive behavior, self-management, and social competence.


Social, emotional, character and behavioral skills can be taught.

In collaboration with Heartland AEA, Urbandale School District is making social and emotional learning a focus area in 2023-2024 and beyond. In preparation for that work…

  • Continuation of all staff professional learning 
  • District-wide implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
  • Identification and implementation of high quality social, emotional, character practices and instructional materials 
  • Implementation of an aligned social emotional behavior assessments and data analysis
  • Implementation of a needs-driven continuum of supports and services

Our Vision

Urbandale Schools will bring Social, Emotional, and Character Education to life for every student by intentionally modeling and providing instruction and opportunities for every student to thrive.

Our Mindsets

  • We believe relationships are at the heart of everything and ensures that every individual in our learning community is safe emotionally and physically. 
  • We believe social emotional and character education is done best when there is a partnership with a student’s adults outside of school. 
  • We believe that social, emotional, and behavioral development has both physical and social influences and impacts. 
  • We believe students and staff benefit from both explicit and implicit instruction in social, emotional, and character education. 
  • We believe that social, emotional, and character education are as important as academics.
  • We believe social, emotional, and character education should be engaging, meaningful, and affirming to support development over time. 
  • We believe that a continuum of supports is necessary to ensure students and staff have access to what they need socially and emotionally.


Just as in academic learning, social, emotional, character skills learning is best achieved when schools utilize a variety of practices and programming to help all students acquire necessary skills. Similar to cooking, it is important to follow a recipe to ensure we get the product we desire, and focusing on a single ingredient or element of social, emotional,  and character learning will not produce the outcomes we seek. As our schools begin to embed social-emotional learning programming, we will focus on six evidence-based ingredients to help students acquire social, emotional, and character  skills.

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Staff, students, and parents/guardians had the opportunity to prioritize behavior expectations for all of Urbandale schools in order to identify three district-wide expectations. These expectations are modeled, taught, and reinforced across all common areas within our schools preschool through 12th grade.

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