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“I’m a security professional, a counselor, a leader, and sometimes a father figure”: Transformative social emotional learning through the eyes of school security professionals

NCJ Number
American Journal of Community Psychology Volume: 71 Issue: 3-4 Dated: 2023 Pages: 317-331
Date Published

This document reports on a secondary data analysis to determine how school security professionals describe social emotional learning, and how they apply transformative SEL in their work, laying out the research methodology and outcomes.


Schools are increasingly hiring full-time, unarmed school security professionals (SSPs), who are different from School Resource Officers (SROs), to help facilitate safe and supportive school climates. However, there is a paucity of literature about how they describe and engage with social emotional learning (SEL), particularly equity-focused or transformative SEL. The research study reported here was a secondary data analysis that used qualitative responses to content embedded in two online professional development (PD) modules created for school security: SEL and cultural competence (CC). Forty-eight SSPs completed the SEL module and 18 of these SSPs also completed the CC module. Informed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning's transformative SEL literature, researchers sought to understand how SSPs describe SEL and how they apply transformative SEL in their work. A qualitative transcript analysis was performed, and transformative SEL's five subthemes were identified through this iterative process: working collaboratively; equity and inclusion; cultural humility; ties to identity; and advocacy. Findings demonstrated that SSPs who completed the modules applied transformative SEL principles in various, overlapping ways, illustrating their capacity to support student SEL. However, some SSPs struggled to make ties to their own identity, highlighting the need for widespread training and additional emphasis on self-awareness in transformative SEL PD. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2023