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Start With the Heart

Start With the Heart
Igniting Hope in Schools Through Social and Emotional Learning

March 2019 | 168 pages | Corwin

Start with the heart to build a school climate in which achievement will flourish.

You can build an empathetic school culture that promotes genuine acceptance of one another, an appreciation for diversity, and an intrinsic desire to contribute and grow academically—a school environment that is inviting, positive, and engaging!

In this easy-to-read, inspiring book, educational consultant and former high school principal Michelle Trujillo shows how positive school culture is anchored in social and emotional learning as a way of being. Through explanation, personal anecdotes, and the demonstration of problem-solving through intentional connection, she guides educators to explore their own SEL aptitudes. In doing so, she inspires a schoolwide investment in a philosophy of connection—with students and each other—that ignites a climate in which every individual is seen, heard, and valued, and academic achievement has an opportunity to thrive for all. 

Drawing in readers through story and reflection, the book defines the challenges educators face and offers ample tools, strategies, and solutions for integrating 5 SEL competencies into schools. It includes

  • Concrete examples of relationship-building in action in schools by modeling, integrating and explicitly teaching social and emotional learning (SEL) to students
  • Practical, evidence-based strategies for explicit teaching of each SEL competency to students 
  • Opportunities for reflection, brainstorming, and classroom planning 
  • Stories that bring the student experience of empathetic school culture to life 
  • References to programs and practices that meet Tier 1 and 2 evidence-based curriculum requirements. 

Jumpstart conscientious connections in your school community and create a foundation for trust that allows students and educators to feel appreciated, effective, and productive. 

“This is a powerful and moving resource to inspire every educator who wants to make a difference!" 
– Eric Jensen, Author, Brain-Based Learning and Teaching With the Brain in Mind

Preface: Ignite Hope Now!
About the Author
Introduction. Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: A Way of Being
Chapter 1. It’s About the People: A “Meeting Them Where They Are” Mentality
Chapter 2. A Foundation of Love: 7 Keys of Connection
Chapter 3. Self-Awareness: Who Am I? An Essential Question
Chapter 4. Self-Management: Feeling It, Without Losing It
Chapter 5. Social Awareness: Seeing From the Inside Out
Chapter 6. Relationship Skills: The Significance of Being Seen and Heard
Chapter 7. Responsible Decision Making: The Power of Choice
Chapter 8. Modeling: It Starts With Us

"This is a powerful and moving resource and will inspire every educator who wants to make a difference!"

Eric Jensen, Author and Educational Consultant
Jensen Learning

"Michelle Trujillo writes compellingly about leading with heart and intentionality towards a systemic approach to social and emotional learning (SEL).  She elevates the critical voices of students and shares concrete strategies to help educators create schools that simultaneously meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of young people and adults."

Karen VanAusdal, Senior Director of Practice

"We are finally beginning to recognize that schools cannot focus on academics alone. The success of children is tied to their social and emotional development. This important book describes what schools can do to address the needs of the whole child. For educators and others who seek to ensure that schools are able to respond to the needs of our children, this book is an invaluable resource."

Pedro A. Noguera, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Education
UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

"This is a very important book. It is well written, insightful, practical, and consistent with research on the science of learning and development. Start With the Heart strategically incorporates the voices of students and provides readers with opportunities to reflect so that they can embed social emotional learning in their practices and 'way of being.' Learning and teaching is hard—particularly when students face many challenges. However, students and teachers can succeed; this book illustrates how we can create safe, engaging, equitable learning opportunities for all students."

David Osher, Vice President and Institute Fellow
American Institutes for Research

"Start With the Heart is a must read for teachers seeking research-based practices that expand the social, emotional, and academic development of their students."


Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction
Nevada Department of Education

"Educators have known that building students' social emotional skills (SES) is critical to their future success. It’s time for schools to embrace and understand the significance of being deliberate in incorporating SES skills in their classrooms and schools. Hats off to Michelle Trujillo for writing a book that walks teachers and schools through a process that shows how it can be successfully done."

Kim Campbell, Middle School Teacher and Dean of Students
Hopkins West Junior High, Minnetonka, MN

"Michelle Trujillo brings a scientifically-based framework to this work, as well as a strong social and emotional component, both of which are so important to our schools. Michelle is able to bridge the gap so all stakeholders understand the impact that creating a social and emotional learning environment has on academic achievement." 

Dr. Greta Peay, Chief Officer, Instructional Services
Clark County School District, NV

"Michelle Trujillo takes you on a journey with Social and Emotional Learning to make a difference: not like on a train ride that keeps you on track, but more like an airplane flight that takes you to places you may never have been before. Her Reflection Pages, Suggestions from Students, and Study Questions, peppered with a strong dose of Hope, guide you toward your destination to becoming a better educator. Enjoy the ride!"   

Dr. Stephen Sroka, President of Health Education Consultants and Founder of "The Power of One"
Health Education Consultants

"Michelle Trujillo skillfully blends research, evidence, anecdotes, and opportunities for readers' personal reflections. She has produced an excellent resource that appeals to the intellectual mind, common sense, and the reader's heart. This fantastic book separates itself from others by not only backing up claims with evidence and research, but also facilitating the reader in arriving at those very same conclusions through logic, common sense, and personal reflection into his or her own life experience with social and emotional learning. It has been said that you must touch the heart before you can teach the mind. This book does both."

Gregg Iha, District Resource Teacher
Hawaii Department of Education

"Chock-full of validating and affirming statements for best practice when supporting students who have experienced trauma, this book presents great probing questions to use with staff. Michelle Trujillo provides powerful questions that support leaders in framing meaningful and reflective conversations. After reading Chapter 2, I used some of those questions the next week. I needed this read after a busy start to the school year. Our students need us to be our best selves!

As a fellow continuation high school principal, I read this book and felt heard and seen. The work, the reminders, and belief systems outlined by Michelle inspire me to keep learning, improving, and implementing social and emotional learning for students and staff."

Amy Lloyd, Principal
Adelante Continuation High School, CA

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