The Development of an Effective Educational Leadership Framework for Student Social, Emotional, and Mental Health

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Richardson, Matthew, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Meyers, Coby, CU-Leadshp, Fndns & Pol Studies, University of Virginia

Many of today’s educational leaders are increasingly aware of, and concerned with, the rising rates of social-emotional and mental health issues in their students. While decades of empirical and theoretical research on effective school leadership have resulted in broad domains of leadership practices and standards that positively correlate with student achievement, few established frameworks of exceptional educational leadership currently incorporate student social emotional learning (SEL) or mental health. This study employed a descriptive multiple-case mixed-methods design to investigate how educational leaders effectively address student social emotional learning, how they identify students requiring more intensive support, and how they assist in the treatment of students with mental health disorders. Sites were purposefully selected from the Virginia public schools with the highest student reports of social-emotional health as measured by the 2019 Virginia Department of Education School Climate Survey. Data were collected through surveys, interviews, and document analysis and coded to document the frequency of particular behaviors in school leaders with effective student social, emotional, and mental health management in their schools. The ultimate purpose of this research was the development and initial validation of the Social, Emotional, and Mental Educational Leadership Framework (SEMELF), useful for both the preparation and practice of educational leaders regarding effective leadership practices in the fostering of students’ social and emotional learning, detection of students still at-risk of more serious mental health concerns, and assistance of students struggling with the diagnosis of a medical mental health disorder. Data generally supported the initial field-based validity of SEMELF as an accurate summary of actions that educational leaders perform in schools with high self-report rates of student social-emotional health.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
mental health, social emotional health, educational leadership, frameworks
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