Social Emotional Learning

Building crucial skills that help us succeed in school and thrive in life.

Students and adults need more than just academic skills. We also need self-control, self-discipline, critical thinking, organization skills, the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes, teamwork skills, etc. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process of building these types of skills, which fit into five categories:


Knowing your emotions, values, traits, etc. and how they influence your behavior. Being aware of your personal rights and responsibilities.


Responding to emotions in healthy ways and showing self-control. Setting goals, being organized, and overcoming obstacles.

Social Awareness

Putting yourself in others' shoes and seeing different perspectives. Reading social situations. Knowing who to go to for help.

Relationship Skills

Building strong relationships. Cooperation and teamwork. Handling critical feedback, conflict, and social pressure appropriately.

Responsible Decision Making

Weighing pros and cons, considering wellbeing, forming a realistic understanding of consequences, and making constructive choices.

Minnesota is one of a growing number of states with SEL standards, an asset that helps educators stay on the same page. Click to learn more!

You may be wondering how we build these skills. SEL is happening in every school, whether we call it "SEL" or not.

In fact, this work has been part of schools for as long as schools have existed. We simply continue to improve our tools and approach.

Schools often set aside time to teach SEL curriculum (during morning meetings, advisory, etc.), but the learning hardly stops there.

Pretty much everything we do during the school day (and beyond) can support SEL.

SEL looks like (for example):

  • Creating supportive climates with a sense of belonging and clear rules

  • Engaging instruction, group work, and project-based learning

  • Reflecting on the traits, values, emotions, and decisions of literary characters or historical figures

  • Discipline practices that help students learn from their mistakes

  • Matching at-risk students with extra support

  • Educator self-care and teamwork