Guidance Assistants

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, establish and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, CASEL)

One of the ways our school supports the social-emotional development of your child is by explicitly teaching your child social-emotional skills in the classroom using Second Step, an evidence-based, social-emotional learning program.  In addition, our Guidance Assistant (GA) provides students with additional opportunities to practice these skills in a small group setting.

what is second step?

IUSD has selected the Committee for Children’s Second Step program (, grounded in extensive research and evidence-based criteria, as the curriculum for social-emotional learning (SEL) in our school district. It is taught in grade levels K – 8. 

The Second Step Program is instrumental in strengthening the social-emotional skills of students by developing critical life skills that help students recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, CASEL).

We know that academic learning combined with social-emotional learning prepares students to be academically successful, healthy, develop good social relationships, and become engaged citizens (Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education, Columbia University, February 2015).  To this end, we strive to prepare our students by teaching them foundational SEL skills from the Second Step program.

what is second step small group?

Students are offered the opportunity to further practice SEL skills learned in the classroom, in a smaller group setting. Students will meet with once a week for approximately 30 minutes one day a week for approximately 4 – 12 weeks. Every effort is made to meet with your student during non-critical teaching time. Parent/Guardian consent is required for participation in Second Step small group.

what second step lessons are taught in the classroom and small group settings?

The Second Step program teaches skills in the following four areas:

  1. Skills for learning: Students gain skills to help themselves learn, including how to focus their attention, listen carefully, use self-talk to stay on task, and being assertive when asking for help.
  2. Empathy: Students learn to identify and understand their own and other’s feelings. Students also learn to take another’s perspective and how to show compassion.
  3. Emotion Management: Students learn specific skills for calming down when experiencing strong feelings, such as anxiety or anger.
  4. Problem Solving: Students learn a process for solving problems with others in a positive way.