David Adams

CEO at The Urban Assembly


David is the CEO at The Urban Assembly. He previously served as the Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator for District 75 (in NYC) where he shaped the District’s approach to social-emotional learning for students with severe cognitive and behavioral challenges.

He has worked internationally in schools in England, standing up and evaluating programs of positive behavioral supports and Social-Emotional Learning as a research intern at Yale University’s Health, Emotion and Behavior Lab, and published multiple academic papers around the relationship of social-emotional competence, and student academic and behavioral outcomes.C


Everyone and anyone can get involved. It doesn’t matter how big or small your organization or efforts are; there is something that every single person can do to support social-emotional learning in their communities and in their networks.



The Urban Assembly Social-Emotional Learning Team

The Urban Assembly believes that demography should not determine a young person’s destiny and that a great public education is a basic human right. The Social-Emotional Learning Team carries this mission forward and builds schools’ capacity to ensure that all staff and students in the UA network receive relevant experiences and purposeful instruction to develop the social emotional competencies that impact students’ success in school, work, and life.

Working across schools with key school staff, including principals, deans, social workers, teachers and counselors, the Urban Assembly Social-Emotional Learning Team employs the following key strategies:

  • Develop and establish behavior support systems
  • Develop and establish social-emotional learning programming
  • Monitor and enhance school culture/climate

Learn more about Social-Emotional Learning at Urban Assembly.

International SEL Day

Join the movement to support social emotional learning

March 26, 2021

We know that SEL changes lives.

Studies show that SEL provides many benefits to students—from improved social-emotional skills, well-being and behavior to improved academic outcomes—and these results are long-term and global, with proven positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use.

International SEL Day is meant to showcase, promote, advocate for and support social emotional learning (SEL) in school and communities across the world.

Learn how you can participate in #SELday!

Educator's Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence experts David Caruso, Ph.D., Lisa Rees, PCC, MPA, and David Adams, MEd combine decades of education, research, teaching and training experience on emotional intelligence. This guide will teach you to apply emotional intelligence to instruction and leadership. Plus, you’ll learn to:

  • Develop your emotional intelligence skills
  • Solve difficult instructional and leadership challenges
  • Enhance student well-being and academic performance

Learn how to Map Emotions, Match Emotions, understand the Meaning of Emotions and Move Emotions—the four skills of emotional intelligence based on the original scientific theory of emotional intelligence by psychologists John (Jack) Mayer and Peter Salovey. With these skills you can create a more positive school culture and classroom climate, be a more effective educator and a better colleague.

Grab your copy today!


EQ vs. IQ: How We Measure Children & Their Success

Content originally published on

Measuring EQ and Social-Emotional Learning: Skills, Attitudes, and Values

Chicago Ideas gathered researchers and teachers together to discuss the value of socio-emotional learning and the best ways to foster a student-centric classroom in an educational climate that remains staunchly test-focused.

Panel experts and topics include: Campbell Brown on educating our country’s 74 million children; Karen Niemi on putting socio-emotional learning on equal footing with academic education; Marc Brackett on emotional intelligence’s impact on decision making, mental health and bullying; David Adams on giving schools the resources they need to create student-centric classrooms; Susan Crown on connecting students to technology.


The mission of The Urban Assembly is to advance students’ economic and social mobility by improving public education.

Through rigorous academic programming and a deep commitment to equity and social justice, UA schools will graduate well-prepared, caring, informed citizens who have the individualized supports and guidance they need to maximize their potential and succeed in their postsecondary academic and career paths.

Open To All Students

The Urban Assembly is a family of schools that are Open To All Students

We accept students wherever they are on their journey to becoming lifelong learners and successful adults. Most of our students enter Urban Assembly schools as youth who are often below grade level in both Math and ELA, and we provide the attention and support needed to unlock their potential.

Small Public Schools

The Urban Assembly is a family of Small Public Schools

We embrace the challenges our students face as adolescents. We work to ensure all Urban Assembly students receive the necessary developmental opportunities to address their unique needs and achieve their distinct goals. Our group of 23 schools located across Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx support each other as a family of educators, with help from hundreds of partner organizations.

College & Career Focused

The Urban Assembly is a family of schools that are College & Career Focused

Urban Assembly schools strive to prepare students for postsecondary success by ensuring that they have the knowledge, skills and social-emotional attributes necessary for success in postsecondary education and economically viable career pathways in a 21st century economy. 


This session enables a community to situate isolated trauma-informed practices and concepts into a coherently organized SEL framework. Participants will be able to:

  • Understand the overlapping components of SEL and trauma-informed practices
  • Organize trauma-informed practices into an SEL framework so students experience a coherent and consistent trauma-informed educational experience
  • Employ trauma-informed practices in an asset-based manner

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This session enables a community to tap into and build resilience by demonstrating how to teach SEL skills that support long-term coping skills and protective factors. Participants will be able to:

  • Identify connections between mental health and SEL development
  • Organize mental health supports around an SEL framework and understand the rationale for such frameworks
  • Explicitly teach SEL skills to support long-term wellness

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This session enables a community to employ social-emotional skills in service of the constructive dialogue necessary to advance equity. Participants will be able to:

  • Ensure SEL and equity work in tandem to create a supportive and resilience-building environment
  • Teach and create an environment that allows constructive dialogue through social-emotional skills like perspective-taking, self-awareness and social-awareness

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This session enables a community to situate its climate and culture on SEL principles in order to create an underlying and consistent theory of action for the school environment in person or virtually. Participants will be able to:

  • Build a consistent and coherent climate and culture experience for community members
  • Inventory climate and culture-related practices in a manner that illuminates what practices to amplify and what gaps to address
  • Create and teach a positively framed and observable set of expectations aligned to school values

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This session enables a community to better connect counseling and SEL-related practices. Participants will be able to:

  • Ensure community members support the work of school-based counselors in other settings within the school so that transferable and long-term coping skills are developed

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This session enables a community to internalize how the classroom is already a setting where SEL happens, and how to more intentionally deepen that connection so students build more transferable SEL and academic skills. Participants will be able to:

  • Understand how academic outcomes are bolstered when instruction is paired with SEL
  • Identify ways SEL can inform academic instructional formats and the teaching of subject matter content
  • Build coherence between academics and SEL so students receive a consistent learning experience

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This session enables participants to organize athletics around SEL principles. Participants will be able to:

  • Understand how athletics is uniquely suited to be a vehicle to deepen SEL skills
  • Organize athletics around SEL principles
  • Develop a supportive team culture that emphasizes effort, autonomy, explicit skill-building, and practice
  • Build youth voice and choice into sports programs

90-minute webinar | $2,500 per district or school


This multi-part training results in the potential certification of staff members to lead systemic SEL approaches in schools or districts. Participants will demonstrate proficiency in:

  • SEL theory, direct instruction, assessment and integration
  • Diffusion of Innovation theory and change management
  • Role and Function of the Resilient Scholars Portal

18-hour Training via Webinar/In-Person | $9,000 per district



Expanding social emotional learning is key

Publish date: March 26, 2021

David Adams joins Nithya Joseph and Jordan Posamentier  emphasizes the importance of social-emotional learning and why its expansion in classrooms is important for dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19.

Encountering Resistance, Leaning into the Creative Arts with Dave Adams

Publish date: October 1, 2020

David Adams joins Sara LaHayne and the Move This World team to discuss encountering resistance and leaning into the creative arts & SEL.

Using SEL to Create Anti-Racist Schools

Publish date: September 29, 2020

American schools have the capacity to develop students who have the imagination to envision and create an American community that rectifies the sins of our past in order to move our nation forward. But to give our young people a chance to move us in this direction we must give them skills and experiences to navigate a common social good by prioritizing social and emotional learning.

Talking Social Emotional Learning with David Adams

Publish date: September 28, 2020

David Adams joins the Trending in Education podcast to explore the many facets of Social Emotional Learning or SEL. David shares his career journey which charts a path through many of the key centers of research in the field along with practical experience in schools in New York City and around the world. He recently co-authored a book titled The Educator’s Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence.

Schools Must Prioritize SEL this Upcoming School Year

Publish date: August 7, 2020

As principal of the Urban Assembly School for Collaborative Healthcare, I want my students to succeed under any circumstance and I believe that social-emotional learning (SEL) is the best tool to ensure student success.

Kids Deserve Open Doors, Not Screens

Publish date: July 30, 2020

Last month during a DOE Admissions Town Hall I listened to dozens of moms and dads advocate for the continued screening of NYC public school students, even though we have been given a unique opportunity to change course. Their arguments were old and uninspired: our kids have been led to believe, they say, that if they worked hard, they would be rewarded with access to the best public schools in the city.

4 Ways Educators Can Push Social-Emotional Learning Over the Summer

Publish date: July 14, 2020

For some students, summer is a time for sleeping in late, hanging out with friends, and going to camp. For others, summer is a time where there is little to do and insecurity is high. For many, summertime means increased exposure to traumatic experiences. For these students, the realities and traumas that occur during the summer often find their way into the classroom when school begins in the fall.

A New Vision of Education: Re-imagining the Social Contract

Publish date: March 17, 2020

Imagine a world in which the more formal education you have, the more likely you are to view facts about controversial topics through a partisan lens. Take a moment to visualize a country where the lower a person’s education level, the more accurate their perceptions are about the views of other Americans from across the political spectrum.

David Adams on International SEL Day and How You Can Get Involved

Publish date: February 2020, 2020

Inside SEL connected with David Adams, who serves as the Director of Social-Emotional Learning at The Urban Assembly and sits on the Board of Directors at CASEL. David and his team at The Urban Assembly — in conjunction with SEL4US — are planning the inaugural International SEL Day on March 27, 2020. Learn more about David’s background and career path, the origin story of International SEL Day, and how you can get involved.