Educator Guide to Social-Emotional Learning

Why teach social-emotional skills?

Social-emotional skills are needed for children and adults to identify and manage thoughts, emotions and behaviors so they can develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. Positive social-emotional skills help us build healthy relationships, achieve goals, express empathy, make responsible decisions and practice positive self-care.

Educators, like families, must address the needs of the whole child, and it will be critically important to focus on the behavioral health of children, families, school staff and communities during this pandemic.  

What is social-emotional learning?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set positive goals, show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. According to The Collaborative of Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), there are five core competencies of SEL.

  • Self-Awareness: The ability to accurately recognize our emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing our strengths and limitations and having a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

  • Self-Management: The ability to regulate our emotions, thoughts and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, self-motivation and setting and working toward personal and academic goals.

  • Social Awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school and community resources and supports.

  • Relationship Skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively and seeking/offering help when needed.

  • Responsible Decision-Making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions and the well-being of self and others.