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Group of teens sitting at a table and smiling while looking at their notebooks together

SEL and Adolescent Literacy

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.                       — E.E. Cummings

Why is adolescence a prime time for SEL?

Historically, there has been pushback on teaching SEL at the secondary school level. This is starting to change, and it’s a positive shift because the changes and emotions that are typical during adolescent years are exactly the areas that can be successfully impacted by SEL.

How do SEL and literacy development intersect?

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 but their environment for learning must be ripe for this development. Do students feel safe to discuss tough topics and varying perspectives within your class?