Social Emotional Learning
What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?
SEL is the “process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”[i]
There are many different names for social and emotional learning including: 21st century skills, character, non-cognitive skills, soft skills, and life skills. The following frameworks offer two different ways of understanding SEL.
Why is SEL important?
Research suggests that the integration of social and emotional with academic learning is beneficial to students in school and beyond. When well implemented, SEL programs have been linked to a host of important educational and life outcomes, as listed here.[i]
- Higher test scores
- Higher graduation rates
- Prevention of bullying
- Reduction in teacher stress
- Improved college and career skills such as flexibility, adaptability, collaboration, and creativity
- Improved social performance, job outcomes, and higher education attainment
How do we develop students’ social and emotional skills, habits and mindsets?
A positive school climate and culture are the foundation for academic, social, and emotional learning. According to the National School Climate Center, school climate is defined as the “patterns of students’, parents’ and teachers’ experience of school life. It reflects norms, values, relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.” A school’s climate, sometimes referred to as school
culture, includes everything within the school ranging from physical environment such as the condition of the bathrooms, walls, and classroom furniture, to the kind of learning students have access to; to the more abstract conceptions of climate such as how welcoming the front office staff is or how students are spoken to in the hallways or the cafeteria line. A school’s climate “sets the tone” at the school and can be both seen and felt in how people within the school interact with one another. 
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education https://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/HSClimate4.pdf
Strategies for Developing SEL
In Classrooms & Schools:
- Support executive functioning with organizational routines and norms for behavior
- Practice mindfulness or other stress management strategies
- Explicit teaching of empathy, collaboration, and conflict resolution
- Offer opportunities for students to receive feedback, revise work, and reflect on goals/progress
- Encourage a growth mindset where effort is praised, not competition
- Teach students to work in groups and collaborate effectively using listening and speaking skills
- Ask children how they feel
- Be willing to apologize
- Focus on strengths
- Ask questions that will help children problem solve
- Read books and stories together
- Give children responsibilities in the home to encourage sharing and helping
- Focus on the value of learning by offering quiet work space and helping your child to set priorities
- Stay calm when angry – explain your feelings or frustrations
- Avoid humiliating or mocking your child
Source: Schools, Parents, and Social and Emotional Learning: Ten Things You Can Do At Home https://www.asdk12.org/cms/lib/AK02207157/Centricity/Domain/1228/SEL_ParentTips.pdf
 Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. What is SEL? https://casel.org/what-is-sel/
 Osher, D., Kidron, Y., Brackett, M., Dymnicki, A., Jones, S., & Weissberg, R. P. (2016). Advancing the science and practice of social and emotional learning: Looking back and moving forward. Review of Research in Education, 40(1), 644-681.
 Melnick, H., Cook-Harvey, C. M., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Encouraging social and emotional learning in the context of new accountability. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/encouraging-social-emotional-learning-new-accountability-report
Channa Cook Harvey, Ph. D.
Director, Social Emotional Learning