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Supporting Students’ Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. ~ Aristotle

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a term that is used and confused frequently. So, what is it exactly?

“SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” — Justina Schlund

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has long touted the importance of supporting students’ social emotional needs within classrooms and instruction. Research has shown the positive impact SEL-focused instruction can make on students’ academic lives, including higher attendance and graduation rates as well as fewer school suspensions.

Why Does SEL Matter For Adolescent Learners?

Intersection of SEL and Literacy Development

Literacy instruction is a natural vehicle for students to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings as well as their understanding of others’ perspectives. Empathy and other social and emotional skills are ripe for development through oral and written discussions as adolescents’ desire for socially engaging literacy experiences begins to emerge.

“Teaching SEL concepts in the context of a book can provide opportunities for students to engage in productive discussions about their culture and identity, as well as to explore power dynamics in society and to consider how our choices affect others” (Center for Responsive Schools). For adolescent learners, the intersection of SEL and literacy development holds powerful promise for changing our society for the better through building a more compassionate society.

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National Education Association (NEA)