Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Instructional Materials

Key practices and resources to support SEL skill development

The FCPS central office shares instructional practices and resources with schools to support Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). FCPS also wants to share key materials with families since families play an essential role in fostering their student’s learning. Through these pages, you can explore ways FCPS supports SEL.

Why is SEL important? SEL boosts academic performance and helps students develop the skills they need to succeed at school and in life. Together with families, FCPS  equips students with the skills they need to learn from their mistakes, set and achieve goals, build positive relationships, and become responsible and caring citizens. 

Virginia SEL Guidance Standards

SEL instruction in Virginia's public schools is informed by the Virginia Social Emotional (SEL) Guidance Standards. Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) developed these standards in 2021 to provide guidance to schools across the state on how SEL skills can be taught at each grade level. The standards are based in CASEL’s nationally recognized definition of SEL, which includes five key competencies: 

  • Self Awareness
  • Self Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision Making

FCPS staff are encouraged to use these standards to inform SEL instruction across all grade levels. To learn more about the CASEL competencies, the benefits of SEL, and how families and schools may partner to support SEL, visit the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) webpage.

Morning Meeting, Closing Circle, and Responsive Advisory Meeting

All FCPS schools are required to implement the following practices, drawn from Responsive Classroom’s evidence-based SEL model:

  • Morning Meeting and Closing Circles in elementary schools
  • Responsive Advisory Meetings in middle and high school

The Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically. Each morning, elementary students and teachers gather together in a circle for 20 minutes to interact with one another during four core activities: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. Students welcome one another to school, share their ideas about topics that are important to them, and interact with one another to practice social and academic skills. A five-to ten-minute closing circle allows students to reflect on their day and end on a positive note.

The Responsive Advisory Meeting (RAM) offers a time for building meaningful connections and developing respectful and trusting relationships. It helps students to know they belong, feel significant, and apply key academic and social skills. The Responsive Advisory Meeting takes place at least once per week during the first 30 minutes of Learnings Seminar in middle and high school. It includes four core activities: arrival, announcement, acknowledgement, and activity. These activities mirror those of Morning Meeting, providing consistency as students transition into middle and high school.

In addition to using Morning Meeting and Closing Circle or RAM to support SEL, some schools provide additional SEL practices during the school day such as offering a class lesson to further develop an SEL skill. For more information on specific school practices, please contact the principal of your child’s building.

Resources to Support Morning Meeting, Closing Circle, and Responsive Advisory Meeting

The resources below are available to schools as they plan for Morning Meeting, Closing Circle, and Responsive Advisory Meetings. Schools may use other high-quality activities of their choosing, provided they are aligned with these practices and SEL skill development. Please contact your principal for information about particular resources used in your child’s building. 


Elementary: Social Emotional Learning in the First Six Weeks

Morning Meeting & Closing Circle Choice Boards: Grades K-2

Morning Meeting & Closing Circle Choice Boards: Grades 3-6

VDOE Curriculum Frameworks for ES

Implementation Guides for ES

The Morning Meeting Book: K-8 3rd Edition
(Center for Responsive Schools, 2017)
Copies of this book were made available to each elementary school to support planning for Morning Meeting. If you would like to review a copy of this resource, please contact your child’s school.

Playbook by Panorama Education

Middle School/High School

Middle and High School: Social Emotional Learning in the First Six Weeks

VDOE Curriculum Frameworks for MS/HS

VDOE Implementation Guides for MS/HS

The Responsive Advisory Meeting Book
150+ Purposeful Plans for Middle School
(Center for Responsive Schools, 2018)
Copies of this book were made available to each middle and high school to support planning for Responsive Advisory Meeting. If you would like to review a copy of this resource, please contact your child’s school.

Playbook by Panorama Education

Playbook by Panorama Education

A professional learning library where educators can access hundreds of research-based instructional resources they may utilize to help develop SEL in the classroom. Example resources are below. To explore additional activities and lesson plans within Playbook, please contact your child’s school.

Red Light, Purple Light (Elementary)

Red Light, Purple Light (RLPL) is a classroom-based intervention consisting of music- and movement-based circle time designed to increase in cognitive complexity.

The goal of Red Light, Purple Light is to support children in building key self-management skills, such as remembering instructions, switching their attention from one rule to another, and inhibiting impulsive behaviors and emotions.

RLPL is typically played in similar ways to the classic Red Light, Green Light game in schools but with intentional instructions linked to building students' self-management skills. The goal is to have students play a game while paying close attention to the teacher's instructions.


  • Materials: colored paper, scissors
  • Cut several circles (with different colors) to simulate traffic lights. You should have 5-6 colored circles available as options for the game.
  • Select a song to use as the greeting song and goodbye song (see below).

Implementation Components of RLPL

  1. Greeting Song: Students are led in a welcome song with their teacher and encouraged to sing, clap to the beat of the song, and/or perform simple dance moves. This song is a consistent opening to RLPL that prompts students to prepare for the game.
  2. Movement and Listening Games: Teachers outline instructions for students that pair specific actions with visual or oral cues. As the game progresses, the teacher can increase the complexity of the game by asking students to perform the action for the opposite cue and/or add additional instructions.
  3. Goodbye Song: End the game with a consistent goodbye song, providing time for the class to come together and sing or dance to finish the session.

Example Cues
The following cues can be used to play RLPL. Remember that educators should introduce new cues and/or change instructions associated with cues to increase complexity as the game progresses.

  • Walk when a green circle is displayed.
  • Stop walking when a red circle is displayed.
  • Clap when a blue circle is shown.
  • Stomp your feet when an orange circle is shown.

Implementation Tips

  • Many educators find it helpful to carve out specific time to have students play RLPL on a weekly basis, such as during morning meeting or circle time.
  • When first introducing the game, model instructions for students and talk about the listening and memory skills needed to engage in the game. 

Woop (Upper Elementary, Middle, High School)

WOOP is an evidence-based process to help students (and adults) initiate and sustain effort to achieve goals.

This activity focuses on goal-setting and goal fulfillment. 

About WOOP
Developed by Dr. Gabriele Oettingen and Dr. Peter Gollwitzer, WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan. WOOP helps you to explore what your wish is as well as the barriers that hold you back from fulfilling this desire.


  1. Start this activity by guiding students (or adults) through a calming exercise to create a safe environment.
  2. First, ask participants to decide on a wish. This is something that they really want to accomplish. Their wish should be exciting, challenging, and realistic.
    • For example: “I wish I turned my homework in on time more.”
  3. Next, tell participants to brainstorm the best outcome that would result from accomplishing their wish/goal. 
    • How would the outcome make you feel?
    • Let your mind go and imagine this outcome.
  4. Ask participants to think about the personal obstacle that might prevent them from accomplishing this goal.
    • Let your mind go and imagine this obstacle.
    • For example: When doing homework, I get distracted by my phone.
  5. Shift into planning. What can participants do to overcome their obstacle (preemptively or in the moment)?
  6. Finally, participants to name one effective action that they can take and create an if-then plan.
    • If/when [obstacle occurs], then I will [take this effective action].
    • For example: If I am distracted by my phone, I will put it in the drawer and move to another room.
  7. Participants can volunteer to share their WOOP and discuss how the process of outlining a wish, outcome, obstacle, and plan made them feel.

Implementation Tips:
Schedule time with participants to follow up on how their WOOP is going.

Good News (Middle & High School)

This brief ritual – during which students share positive happenings in their lives – helps foster a safe and supportive classroom environment.

The goal is to take a short break from content instruction and invite students to connect with classmates while celebrating the good news in each other’s lives.

Determine a five-minute window (during an instructional period) that you can set aside for this weekly ritual. For example: you can designate the beginning of a Friday period as “Good News” time.


  1. Share with your students that each week, they will be taking a five-minute break from instruction. 
  2. Explain that during this break, anyone in the class can share positive happenings in their lives. Students can volunteer to share any event or update, no matter how “big” or “small” the good news is. 
  3. Classmates should listen patiently and actively while their peers share. After each share, students are invited to connect with classmates about what they shared and celebrate the good news in each other’s lives.

Implementation Tips:

  • For the first few weeks of implementing “Good News,” consider modeling the act of sharing positive happenings for your students.
  • Allow for flexibility in terms of how students can share positive happenings. For example: in addition to the option to volunteer and share verbally, create a “Good News” poster that students can post sticky notes on.
  • While this activity was designed to be embedded within content instruction periods for middle schoolers and high schoolers, you can adapt “Good News” to be part of a morning meeting or exit ticket for elementary schoolers.
  • Spending five minutes per week implementing the Good News activity means an investment of less than one hour per month, and this time can go a long way toward building a classroom community that celebrates the best of each other’s lives and cultures.

SEL Screener

Students in grades 3-12 use the screener twice a year to share their perspectives on how well their school and community help them develop skills they need to succeed. These skills include achieving goals, understanding and managing emotions, establishing and maintaining relationships with adults and peers, and making responsible decisions. Students also share how successful their school and community are at making them feel valued, included, and supported. These factors are critical to positive academic, social, and emotional success. 

Please note that the SEL Screener is not an assessment and is not graded. The screener elevates the voices of our students by making sure their perspectives are considered in decision-making. Data is used to plan programming for the division, schools, and individual students. More information is available on the FCPS SEL Screener Website, including tips for talking with your student about their screener results and a guide for understanding SEL strengths.