With the rise of digital technology and social media—along with a renewed focus on mental health, behavioral outcomes, and classroom climate—social-emotional learning (SEL) is in the spotlight for K–12 educators.
So what is social-emotional learning, and why is SEL important for 21st century schools to address?
Dig Into CASEL's Definition of SEL
SEL stands for "social-emotional learning," which the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines as:
The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
The five social-emotional learning competencies developed by CASEL are crucial to students’ learning and development.
- Self-awareness: Recognizing one's own emotions and their effect on behavior.
- Self-management: Regulating one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors; managing stress, setting goals, and staying motivated.
- Responsible decision-making: Making constructive decisions in social situations based on ethics, safety, and social norms.
- Relationship skills: Developing positive relationships with diverse groups and individuals; communicating clearly and cooperating with others.
- Social awareness: Empathizing and understanding the views of others, including those of other cultures or backgrounds.
What Is SEL in Education?
Now that you have a better sense of the meaning of SEL, let's look at its role in education. Learning is social and emotional. A whole-child approach to education moves beyond focusing on academic achievement alone to incorporate life skills—building relationships, controlling emotions, making responsible decisions—that children must develop for long-term success.
Schools are one of the main sources of SEL in children’s lives. To ensure students thrive, they should get opportunities to practice SEL skills throughout the school day, in their academic work and in personal interactions.
“Children are coming to school with increasing social and emotional issues,” said Dr. Bill Daggett, founder of the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), during a recent keynote address at the 2019 Model Schools Conference. “The high-performing schools have said, ‘Time out. Let’s spend our time thinking deeply about these kids in 2019 and how we have to change our teaching methodology and strategies to keep up with this younger generation.’”
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