Wayfinder Blog

5 Takeaways From the Wayfinder Program Profile by Harvard’s EASEL Lab

22 Jan

In 2023, researchers of the EASEL Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education completed a Wayfinder program profile by analyzing Wayfinder’s suite of curriculum, resources, assessments, and training. 

Together, Thelma Ramirez, Annie Kiyonaga, Marianna Paone, Edwin Chng, Laura Stickle, and Stephanie M. Jones first broke down Wayfinder's thematic components. They found it a well-rounded social-emotional learning curriculum that supports social interaction, self-development, cognitive processing, perspective-taking, and more.



From there, the researchers detailed the many components that make up Wayfinder’s program. This section of the program profile offers some of the most important insights into how Wayfinder supports social-emotional learning and purpose development. It also highlights how its supplementary products and services drive easy and integrated program implementation.

5 Key Takeaways:

1. Wayfinder is a comprehensive social emotional learning solution.

Wayfinder offers a comprehensive set of resources that can be used in various settings. The Activity Library contains over 2,000 student skill-building activities, including resources for class openings, games, and more. Additionally, Wayfinder provides professional development sessions to foster connections within the school community and partners with districts to align resources with school-wide initiatives, reinforcing opportunities for learning and supporting school culture.

It also promotes family engagement through a Family Information Hub that offers support materials, including introductory videos, program information, and sample activities for at-home use. It facilitates the connection between classroom learning and real-life experiences and provides materials for partners to share with families during information sessions.

2. Adult SEL, implementation support, and professional development drive high-quality instruction.

Researchers noted that Wayfinder provides not only exceptional resources for students but also wraparound support for educators. This helps ensure that adults are resourced, engaged, and prepared to facilitate lessons and activities effectively.

Wayfinder provides comprehensive professional development and training support.
  • Dedicated school success coaches
  • Synchronous training online and in-person
  • Ongoing learning opportunities in three phases over three years to build knowledge, skills, and teacher efficacy
  • Asynchronous learning modules and a resource library for educators

Implementation supports are a key feature of Wayfinder's program. Each lesson provides detailed guidance to enhance the overall instructional experience.  

  • Objectives, materials, and timing
  • Student engagement
  • Suggested language
  • Educator tips
  • Complementary materials
  • instructional experience

Wayfinder also focuses on adult social and emotional competence to support individual well-being and a supportive school community.

  • Flexible SEL courses for K-12 teachers, leaders, and staff available in different formats to strengthen the well-being and skills of educators
  • A teacher resource library to further support adult SEL and encourage educators to explore their relationships, joys, and values.

3. Flexible options make Wayfinder useful and accessible in various settings. 

The research notes that Wayfinder's Core Curriculum lessons can be lengthened or shortened while preserving the core objectives. Each lesson offers a toggle for full or abbreviated versions, and there are Deeper Dive extensions for those with more time. Additionally, there's a fast-track option with the 10 most impactful lessons.

The Core Curriculum builds skills in modules and is most effective when implemented sequentially, but individual lessons can also be used as powerful stand-alone resources. Educators can adapt lessons using real-life examples most relevant to their student context and attached Google Slides can be edited accordingly. Educator tips help modify content for different student needs, and both pre-set and customizable Collections enable educators to deliver tailored content to best meet student needs. 

All of this flexibility makes Wayfinder a great solution for various settings.

  • After school: Wayfinder can be tailored to diverse settings, such as out-of-school-time (OST) programs. YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs actively use it nationwide to fulfill their SEL programming objectives. Wayfinder collaborates with OST partners to build a custom scope and sequence aligned with their unique context, offering training with relevant activities and modeling.
  • In diverse locations: Wayfinder is accessible to all K-12 schools and youth-serving institutions. Interested partners can easily schedule a free consultation to determine the most suitable products and training for their specific setting. Moreover, Wayfinder offers Spanish translations of all student materials and plans to introduce additional languages, including Chinese, Russian, Somali, and Vietnamese, in Fall 2024.
  • In core academic classes:  Wayfinder aligns with Common Core math and English language arts Standards. The Academic Alignment filter in the Activity Library allows educators to blend social-emotional skills with various academic subjects like math, language arts, science, and more.
  • Throughout career and technical education and electives: Wayfinder aligns with the Career Technical Education (CTE) system, including national and specific state alignment. It also supports the National Health Education Standards (NHES) and corresponds with California Health Education Content Standards.
  • Within part of counseling and counselor-led programming: Wayfinder aligns with the multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), Response to Intervention (RTI), and Positive Behavioral Interventions + Support (PBIS) frameworks.
  • Virtual learning: Wayfinder offers digital access to its resources, including lesson guides, the Activity Library, videos, slides, and student workbook materials. It provides online teaching tips, customizable Google Jamboards, and easy integration with Learning Management Systems like Canvas, Google Classroom, and Schoology.

4. Wayfinder is relevant and inclusive. 

Developed using human-centered design and prototyped in classrooms nationwide, Wayfinder’s curriculum and learning tools aim to be relevant to and inclusive of all student experiences. The EASEL Lab profile notes, “Wayfinder lessons emphasize the importance of bringing in a variety of student perspectives and life experiences.” Materials include current, real-life examples and quotations from relevant figures of diverse backgrounds so that every student can find connections to their lives and interests. They also encourage educators to tailor examples and scenarios to the reflect the experiences of their students. 

Wayfinder also supports students with various learning needs. Lesson guides promote inclusivity by encouraging educators to make school and community resources easily accessible and to regularly invite student input and create leadership opportunities. They support trauma-informed SEL with tips for establishing consistent and predictable routines and facilitating spaces for students to explore important themes while maintaining classroom norms. The program also supports special education by following Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines, offering lessons and activities in multiple modalities, and providing guidance for embracing diverse learning needs. Moreover, in addition to current and forthcoming language translations, Wayfinder guides working with English Language Learners by encouraging collective definition of new vocabulary concepts, including first language use when appropriate. 

5. Wayfinder’s assessment tools provide multi-dimensional feedback to support quality implementation.

Wayfinder offers summarized teacher and student usage data, including lesson completion and popular content, accessible through the system administrator and principal dashboards. Partner schools and districts have a Wayfinder Success Coach to help monitor impact and adjust implementation strategy as needed. 

The Waypoints assessment suite also supports educators in real-time, identifying areas for targeted SEL skill-building and offering responsive content. The summative assessment, done two to three times yearly, tracks Core Skill progress. Formative assessments allow customized timing and questions for schools to gather regular snapshots of student well-being. 


If you would like to learn more about the Harvard EASEL Lab’s Program Profile, you can download the full report here. You can also learn more about Wayfinder’s programming by scheduling a demo with a team member to see how Wayfinder can support your school or district.