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SEL for Teachers: A Win for Both Educators and Students

  • 4 MIN READ

More educators are considering leaving the profession. School districts can support them through social-emotional learning.

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There has been much debate surrounding whether or not students should receive social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom. But SEL is also important for teachers.

Educators are increasingly dealing with burnout and difficult emotions. More and more educators are at the point where they’re considering leaving the profession altogether.

So how can school districts support their teachers? The answer may lie in social-emotional learning. In this blog, we discuss how incorporating SEL skills in the classroom is a win for educators and students alike.

What Is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning is a behavioral framework that helps people learn to manage their emotions while developing their interpersonal skills. It is designed to make children more empathetic to one another’s feelings and situations while also helping them deal with their own difficulties in an appropriate way.

SEL emphasizes developing its core competencies across four key settings—in classrooms, in schools, with families and in the community.

SEL Makes It Easier to Teach

Deploying SEL in the classroom makes it easier for teachers to teach. This is because students who are happier are more likely to succeed. The research shows that SEL can actually improve students’ relational skills (like kindness and empathy) while simultaneously boosting student achievement. It can also reduce feelings of stress or depression.

Every teacher wants their students to succeed, and happier students do better in school. That makes for a more fulfilling teaching environment for teachers, who are more likely to be surrounded by happier students who are doing better in school. And according to a recent RAND Corporation survey of more than 3,000 people, managing student behavior is one of the leading stressors for U.S. teachers and principals.

If districts can help students cope with their emotions and reduce student misbehavior, educators won’t have to spend as much time managing behavior. In turn, teachers get more time to teach their curriculum, which means more time to get students ready for key moments in the school year.

SEL Makes Teachers Happier

Social-emotional learning is often talked about as a benefit for students, but adults can also reap the benefits of these skills. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), there are five main competence areas of SEL:

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship skills
  • responsible decision-making

Though many adults have a foundation in these areas, ongoing learning can help improve them. This can equip teachers with some tools to fight feelings that lead to burnout, such as anxiety, stress and depression. That doesn’t mean teachers are feeling burnout because they don’t have strong SEL skills; rather, it means that improving those skills—with support from their districts—can help mitigate some of the contributing factors.

When students and teachers are both happier, they can also build strong relationships. That can make teachers feel more connected to work, leading to a more fulfilling and supportive-feeling work environment.

SEL Helps Teachers Teach All Students

Districts are prioritizing the creation of safe school environments and SEL can pave the way. Using SEL principles can help develop classroom practices that embrace the cultures and lived experiences of all students.

Equipping teachers with these skills makes for a more inclusive and welcoming classroom. In its guide to schoolwide SEL, CASEL noted that SEL helps adults examine their own competencies and the policies they put in place. That helps them “address the larger impact that systemic and individual bias, racism or oppression may have on the lives of their students.”

What Can Districts Do Right Now?

Clearly social-emotional learning is important for the well-being of both children and adults. Districts can take several steps toward adopting SEL in their schools.

Among these, they can ensure that their teachers have access to professional development (PD) opportunities that foster SEL skills, especially as they intersect with technology. This can help equip educators with the skills and confidence they need to reach all their students. According to a D2L-commissioned study, the opportunity for professional learning is one of teachers’ biggest desires today. By combining PD with SEL, districts can provide a multifaceted solution to the issue of teacher burnout.

Free SEL Training for Teachers

If you’re looking for free social-emotional learning training for teachers, you can take one of D2L’s masterclasses—absolutely free and at your own pace. Sign up today.