Social Emotional Learning
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What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?
SEL means learning to manage emotions, show self-control, set goals, stay disciplined and organized, bounce back from setbacks, make good choices, resolve conflicts, and much more. These are critical skills that help children to succeed in school and thrive in life.
SEL is happening in every school, whether we call it "SEL" or not. In fact, this work has occurred in schools for as long as schools have existed. What continues to evolve are the tools and approaches that we use to teach these skills to children.
What skills do people learn through SEL?
SEL skills are generally divided into five core competency areas. After reading the short explanations below, click the "Learn More" button if you're curious about the Minnesota benchmarks for these skills at each grade level.
Recognizing emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior
Assessing one’s strengths and limitations
Holding a well grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset"
Regulating emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations
Managing stress and controlling impulses
Setting and self-motivating to work toward personal and academic goals
Perspective-taking and empathizing with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures
Understanding appropriate social behavior
Recognizing support resources such as family, school, and the community
Creating and maintaining healthy relationships with individuals and groups
Communicating and listening effectively
Cooperating, resisting harmful social pressure, and managing conflict
Seeking and offering help when needed
Responsible Decision Making
Making ethical, constructive decisions by considering the wellbeing of oneself and others
Forming a realistic understanding of consequences
How do people learn these SEL skills?
SEL is a very big umbrella that includes many practices and systems in a school. After reading the summary below, click the "Learn More" button if you're curious about the resources made available to help schools continuously improve their SEL.
Teachers and other educators help students understand the "why, how, and when" of different SEL skills. They model skills using videos, role playing, etc. They help students practice and give constructive feedback. Teachers also blend SEL into other subjects like math, language arts, and social studies.
Supportive Classroom and School Climates
Educators set up students to use their SEL skills successfully and then recognize when students do well. This is accomplished through building strong relationships, clearly communicating behavior expectations, providing engaging instruction, and much more.
When students make mistakes, educators help them to keep the mistakes small and to avoid repeating them. Discipline practices help students to manage their emotions, reflect on their behavior, problem solve, enhance their SEL skills, and repair damaged relationships.
A Continuum of Integrated Supports
When students are not making adequate progress in the core curriculum, they are provided with additional teaching and support. Educators set goals to help students "close the gap" with their peers, and we keep track of their progress.
Educators cultivate their own SEL competence and practice self-care. They build strong, trusting school teams and collaborate to continuously improve all SEL-related systems, practices, and policies.
Schools engage students as SEL leaders and problem solvers. Schools collaborate with families and community partners to align on common language and strategies for supporting students' SEL.