We live in a complex world, and the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) cannot be overemphasized. It is an integral part of education and human development. SEL provides a foundation for safe and positive learning and enhances students’ ability to succeed in school, career, and life in general. Research also shows that SEL increases prosocial behaviors—such as kindness, sharing, and empathy— improves student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress among students.
Effective social-emotional learning does not only involve coordinated classroom/school activities; it also involves family and community practices that help students develop the following key skills:
- Social awareness
- Relationships skills
- Responsible decision-making
Self-awareness involves understanding one’s emotions, goals, and values, as well as accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations. It has to do with possessing a well-grounded sense of self-efficacy, confidence, and optimism. And high levels of self-awareness require the ability to recognize how thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected – social-emotional learning.
Self-management means knowing how to regulate one’s own emotions and behaviors, more like self-regulation. This includes the ability to practice patience, manage stress, control impulses, and persevere through challenges to achieve personal and educational goals.
Social awareness is the ability to understand, empathize, and be compassionate towards those with different backgrounds or cultures. It also involves understanding social norms for behavior and recognizing family, school, and community resources and supports.
Social-emotional learning helps students establish and maintain healthy relationships and to act per social norms. These skills involve communicating, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking help when it is needed.
Responsible Decision Making
Responsible decision-making involves learning how to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse settings. Social-emotional learning helps students decipher behavioral norms and consider the well-being of self and others before making decisions.
Benefits Of Social-emotional Learning
- It helps students know and manage themselves.
- SEL helps students understand the perspective of others and relate effectively with them.
- It helps students develop positive attitudes towards themselves and others.
- Social-emotional learning minimizes emotional distress and depression.
- It also improves students’ academic performance.
- SEL prepares students for post-school life and career.
Upholding Social-emotional Learning In The Classroom
Promoting social and emotional development for all students in the classroom involves teaching and modeling social and emotional skills— such as empathy, kindness, emotional intelligence. It also centers on providing opportunities for students to practice master and apply those skills in various situations. Teachers can uphold social-emotional learning through interpersonal and student-centered instructional interactions throughout the school day. Allow students to interact, get to know themselves, and how to relate with each other.
As a teacher, you can also help students develop their social-emotional vocabulary. Give students positive phrases they can use to foster kindness, resilience and overcome failure. For example, instead of saying “I’m not good at this,” teach them to say “How can I improve?” And instead of comparing their academic prowess, encourage them to learn from each other. For improving their social-emotional vocabulary, you can hang a large copy of sentences that promote kindness on the wall or give them smaller versions for their journals.
School administrators can create a healthy school environment for students and teachers by establishing policies and practices that guarantee peaceful coexistence. They should also create fair disciplinary and bullying prevention practices instead of relying on reward or punishment systems. Besides that, school leaders can organize activities that build positive relationships and a sense of community among students, such as regularly scheduled morning meetings or something similar that allows students to connect. Providing the services of counselors and psychologists will also help uphold social-emotional learning in the classroom.
The family and community also have a role to play in upholding social-emotional learning in schools. When students leave school, learning continues at home and with community members. SEL begins in early childhood, so family and early childcare settings are important. Community-based activities also have the potential to promote SEL, such as age-group meetings, outreaches, etc.
SEL is important because students are not born knowing how to manage emotions, solve problems, and get along with others. These kinds of skills have to be developed, and you can work to help your students learn them and become better humans.