Supporting Social and Emotional Learning in School
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is:
- Developing the skills to recognize and manage emotions
- Learning to set and achieve positive goals
- Learning to appreciate the perspectives of others
- Establishing and maintaining positive relationships
- Making responsible decisions.
School policies and practices that support SEL can help meet students’ psychosocial needs.4,5 Creating a positive social and emotional climate in schools supports SEL.
Schools can use a variety of strategies to help with student SEL, such as:
- Carefully selecting or thoroughly developing curricula that emphasize SEL competencies. Schools can identify and implement programs that are developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant for students.
- Integrating SEL skill building, modeling, practice, and assessment across all academic areas.Teachers can incorporate opportunities for students to practice SEL skills and develop competencies such as establishing positive relationships and understanding diverse perspectives through group learning activities.
- Strengthening teacher, staff, and administrator core competencies through professional development. Schools can provide staff training on role modeling and applying social and emotional skills in teacher-student relationships
- Fostering safe, inclusive learning environments for all young people. Schools can establish a culture that emphasizes the importance of showing empathy in relationships, using effective communication, and demonstrating respect for diversity.
- Informing families and communities about school-wide SEL initiatives and activities.Districts and schools can include highlights on their websites detailing SEL policies and practices and describing how SEL supports student development and achievement to keep families and communities informed.
School nutrition and school physical activity policies and practices can also support the social and emotional climate and SEL:
The following resources provide more information on social and emotional climate and SEL in schools. They include implementation guides, strategies, and research briefs from many leading organizations in the field.
- CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programsexternal icon
- Boosting Social and Emotional Development In and Out of Schoolexternal icon
- Choosing and Using SEL Competency Assessments: What Schools and Districts Need to Know pdf icon[PDF – 744 KB]external icon
- Indicators of School Quality: Social and Emotional Learning pdf icon[PDF – 134 KB]external icon
- Integrating Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams pdf icon[PDF – 1.75 MB]external icon
- National Center for School Mental Healthexternal icon
- Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader’s Guide to Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs pdf icon[PDF – 1.8 MB]external icon
- School Mental Health Quality Guide: Teamingexternal icon
- SEL in Homes and Communitiesexternal icon
- Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Healthexternal icon
- Catalano RF, Berglund ML, Ryan JA, Lonczak HS, Hawkins JD. Positive youth development in the United States: research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Prevention & Treatment. 2002;5(1):15a.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development [ASCD]. Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child website. http://www.ascd.org/programs/learning-and-health/wscc-model.aspxexternal iconexternal icon. Accessed March 17, 2020.
- Melnick H, Cook-Harvey CM, Darling-Hammond L. 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-reportexternal iconexternal icon. Accessed March 17, 2020.
- Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). What is SEL? website. https://casel.org/what-is-sel/external iconexternal icon. Accessed March 17, 2020.
- Greenberg MT, Weissberg RP, O’Brien MU, et al. Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist. 2003;58(6-7):466.