SEL doesn’t need to be one more thing to add — it can enrich all that you’re already doing.
If you’re a teacher, parent, administrator — or anyone who works with children in any capacity at all — you’ve likely heard about social-emotional learning.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines social-emotional learning, or “SEL,” as “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” (“Fundamentals of SEL,” 2023).
Reading the definition of CASEL, I am struck by just how delightful it sounds. Imagine a world full of young people (and adults) who can learn and demonstrate new knowledge, regulate their emotions, achieve their goals, and show care for others. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world? I can almost hear the productive dialogue, see the best friends hugging one another after a particularly awful disagreement, and touch the letters on the page of a student’s list of dreams for their future — are we doing anything important today?
I forgot my computer!
Sam pushed me and he –
Can I have extra credit….even though I didn’t do the last five assignments?
What were the directions? I wasn’t listening.
As a teacher, I often felt like I was oscillating between these extremes: my hopes for bettering the world, uplifting and liberating the voices of tomorrow, remembering my “why,” repeating the directions for the fifth time in a row, begging students to stop touching one another, frustratedly handing out computer chargers and searching for usable outlets.
Too often, I’ve seen social-emotional learning presented as the catch-all solution for every problem that teachers are facing in the classroom today. Social-emotional learning can feel like one more thing to add to teachers overly long to-do lists.
Integrating reflection skills
Teachers know better than anyone that young people need help: to learn, to manage, to care. But, they also know firsthand the weight of hundreds of expectations.
So, if you’re a teacher who wants to embrace social-emotional learning, but you are also feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of adding one more thing, our social-emotional learning resource is for you. This resource includes 41 prompts that can be used for your own reflection or with your students as they reflect and build their social-emotional skills.
The prompts included here are organized into five themes, drawn from the core social-emotional competencies identified by CASEL. The themes and their explanations are as follows:
These prompts don’t need to be added, but they can be integrated into the practices that you already have in your classroom: in writing, in discussion, in reflection.
Here are some places you might integrate the prompts into what you are already doing:
I said it before and I’ll say it again: teachers know better than anyone that young people need help: to learn, to manage, to care. But, they also know firsthand the weight of hundreds of expectations.
SEL doesn’t need to be one more thing to add. It can enrich all that you’re already doing, and you’re doing so much.
Thank you to every teacher, past and present — I am because of you.