Social and emotional learning (SEL) is garnering attention as something that can help students thrive in and outside the classroom. Yet, implementing it effectively takes more than simply teaching concepts in class. It requires the active involvement of stakeholders across four key domains—classrooms, schools, families and caregivers, and communities.
In this blog—part two in our five-part series on SEL—we’re going to talk about the roles stakeholders play in developing a strong SEL environment.
What Is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) In Schools?
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a behavioral framework that can be used to help children cultivate interpersonal skills and manage their own emotions. It includes five competencies that are distinct from, but also integral to, academic learning—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Check out the first blog in our series to read more about each of these.
The benefits of SEL can be wide spread. Research has shown that students who participate in SEL programs improved academic performance by 11 percentile points and continued to see positive impacts in their lives up to 18 years later. The return on investment is also high, averaging 11:1 in one study.
The Role of Stakeholders in Advancing SEL
How Educators Can Support SEL
Teachers, counselors, and advisors can use a variety of strategies to help students develop their social and emotional skills.
- Identify social and emotional competencies you want to target and incorporate them into lesson plans and homework.
- Leverage collaborative and project-based learning so students can learn to work with and empathize with each other.
- Actively demonstrate strong interpersonal skills so students have role models to look up to.
- Create safe environments where students can voice their feelings and learn to better manage their emotions and behaviors.
How School Systems Can Support SEL
To promote SEL for all students in a lasting way, it has to go beyond a single lesson or professional learning event for staff and become a part of schools’ values and norms.
- Encourage engaged conversations about SEL practices among stakeholders at all levels.
- Provide professional learning opportunities for staff to help them integrate SEL standards as part of everyday practice.
- Give students and families access to a range of SEL-related services and supports.
How Families Can Support SEL
Social and emotional competencies can’t be learned in schools alone. Involving parents as valuable partners can reinforce what’s happening in the classroom and encourage the organic and holistic growth of SEL skills.
- Create two-way communication channels so families understand what’s happening at school and educators understand what’s happening at home.
- Practice active listening as a family so students know their feelings are acknowledged and validated.
- Apply different strategies to help children express emotion—whether through talking, drawing, or writing.
- Focus on helping children identify and build their strengths to boost their abilities and self-confidence.
How Community Partners Can Support SEL
Students should also be able to practice SEL skills beyond their school or home as part of the wider community. Opportunities could be found through extracurricular activities, volunteer initiatives, and before-and after-school programs.
- Support classroom efforts by providing students with extra opportunities to apply SEL skills in ways that are relevant to them.
- Encourage students to build strong and meaningful connections with a diverse range of community members.
- Work with key groups and stakeholders to align them around common goals, strategies, and approaches.
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