Social and emotional learning (SEL) initiatives are growing throughout school districts as school leaders become more and more aware of its positive outcomes.

“Developing students’ abilities to appropriately navigate and respond to social and emotional experiences leads to increased academic success for children of all ages.”-Kristina James

In James’ article, she explains how in the past, student services staff such as guidance counselors, school psychologists, and social workers were the experts on SEL (and they still are). SEL used to be mainly handled by pulling at risk students who were experiencing academic and/or behavioral issues out of the classroom on a random basis. Today, there is a move towards handling SEL in the classroom on regular intervels. School leaders are realizing more and more that SEL benefits all students even if they do not appear to be struggling.

“Our recent study on SEL programs in schools supports these claims by CASEL. Our research indicates that over 50% of teachers reported they were currently implementing SEL programs in their school. The report also found that teachers need help with implementing SEL in their classrooms—nearly 60% of teachers said they only feel somewhat prepared, compared with 46% of student services staff who feel very prepared. The main reason for teachers not feeling prepared to implement SEL initiatives is lack of training of professional development, followed by lack of student family support and lack of curriculum.”-Kristina James

It’s great that tier one SEL programs are now being made available to all students, but it does create the challenge of how to best support SEL in the classroom. According to James’ article, teachers are not just looking for structured curriculum programs. They are also looking for the following:

  • Videos and lessons that connect SEL to literacy skills and the vernacular students use.
  • Articles and guides to help educators connect SEL skills such as empathy and conflict resolution to real-world situations.
  • Weekly/monthly parent newsletters that extend learning into the home with videos and activities for families to do together.
  • Resources or lesson plans that encourage student-led discussions, problem solving interactions, teamwork, and decision making.

To read James’ article in full, click here.