Realizing the importance, education systems around the world are paying more attention to social emotional learning. It has become a primary focus among many educational organizations and law makers. New laws have been enacted due to the shift in focus. With the rise of emotional outbreaks flooding the country, these skills are more important than ever!

What is Social Emotional Learning or SEL?

Realizing the importance, education systems around the world are paying more attention to social emotional learning. It has become a primary focus among many educational organizations and law makers. New laws have been enacted due to the shift in focus. With the rise of emotional outbreaks flooding the country, these skills are more important than ever!

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process of learning social and emotional skills such as self-awareness, self control, and interpersonal skills. According to CASEL, “Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) explains SEL as “a wide range of skills, attitudes, and behaviors that can affect a student’s success in school and life.” NCSL goes on to say, “critical thinking, managing emotions, working through conflicts, decision making, and team work—all of these are the kind of skills that are not necessarily measured by tests but which round out a student’s education and impact his/her academic success, employ-ability, self-esteem, relationships, as well as civic and community engagement.”

In short, SEL is the skill set that teaches children to be productive members of society.

Who is CASEL and What Do They Have to Do With SEL?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL defined SEL more than two decades ago. They support educators and policy leaders from PreK-12 dealing with SEL. If you are seeking knowledge, research, or strategies related to SEL CASEL is the place to go. Due to their long-term dedication to the topic of SEL and their streamlined focus, CASEL is the most trusted resource on the topic. CASEL is the endorsement that you want to look for when deciding on a curriculum for SEL. This seal of approval is the research backing that lets you know the curriculum is valid and will work, if followed correctly.

Other Agencies

There are other agencies out there that also offer good information and research. However, CASEL offers tenured experience in the SEL arena. I would use CASEL as my guide and these others as support. Gettingsmart.com offers a list of other organizations related to SEL. Although, CASEL is still the main source of information. As you will see, they are even the first resource listed in the article from Getting Smart.

The 5 Competencies of Social Emotional Learning

CASEL’s five core competencies of social emotional learning are:

1. Self-Awareness

Understanding your emotions and thoughts and how they influence your behavior.

Self-awareness skills include: identifying emotions, self-perception, recognizing strengths, self-confidence, and self-efficacy.

2. Self-Management

The ability to regulate your emotions and behaviors in different situations and to set and work toward goals.

Self-management skills include: executive function and self-regulation, stress-management, and self-discipline.

3. Responsible Decision-Making

The ability to make positive choices and take responsibility for positive and negative outcomes.

Responsible decision-making skills include: identifying problems, analyzing situations, solving problems, and reflection.

4. Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others.

Social awareness skills include: empathy, appreciating differences, and respect.

5. Relationship Skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and meaningful relationships with others.

Relationship skills include: communicating clearly, listening, cooperation, resisting negative pressure, resolving conflicts, and supporting one another.

Why is SEL important?

SEL skills are necessary life skills. These skills are just as important, if not more important, than the core competencies taught in schools. Without proper social emotional skills an individual will struggle to function throughout life. This social handicap can cause hurdles as one tries to live up to their other abilities. Education and abilities can only take you so far. If one lacks social emotional skills, this can prevent them from getting certain jobs, building and maintaining necessary relationships, and ultimately lead to mental health issues. Tons of studies exist on the importance and results of teaching SEL.

As far back as 2008, a report from the Marcelino Botín Foundation found that SEL programs in other countries, as well as in the U.S, “significantly enhance social and emotional skills of children and youngsters, reduce or prevent mental and behavioral problems and/or promote academic achievement, in the short as well as in the long term.”

The Four C’s

Scholastic offers numerous articles surrounding the topic of SEL. One particular article discusses The Four C’s. These are four skills that Scholastic deems more important than academics. They are confidence, cooperation, curiosity, and communication.

These are all social skills. With all of the focus on testing these days we often forget the importance of play and interaction. This is where students learn to be productive and functioning members of society. They learn the do’s and don’ts of dealing and interacting with others.

This link provides some additional teacher resources from Scholastic for relating to emotions.

Social Emotional Learning and Your School

Where does your school stand on implementing social emotional skills into the curriculum?  Have you ever considered how it could affect your school’s climate and culture?  I can tell you that it will affect it, in a very positive way!  I have played a key role in transforming my school’s climate and culture and implementing social emotional skills into the curriculum as attributed to this dramatic change.  You can read more about the climate and culture changes and methods in our article Elevating School Climate and Culture With Social Emotional Leaning.  This article will change the way you think about the impacts of SEL on your school.

History and Research Data

In 2018, India began requiring a social and emotional learning as a subject in their curriculum. They felt it was necessary in order to shape their country’s future. This is the trend we find happening across the globe. The United States is now focusing on developing its curriculum to define the new required curriculum of SEL.

Most countries have adopted social emotional learning into their curriculum in some fashion. It is the new trend in education. I don’t think this is going to be something that we see fade out, like other education fads often do. This one is here to stay!

An article from Edutopia mentions the ancient roots of SEL. This goes back to ancient Greece. The article states, “when Plato wrote about education in The Republic, he proposed a holistic curriculum that requires a balance of training in physical education, the arts, math, science, character, and moral judgment. By maintaining a sound system of education and upbringing, you produce citizens of good character.”

In November of 2015, the American Psychological Association published research in School Psychology Quarterly which illustrated that there is no conflict between academics and social emotional learning. In fact, the trial of social and emotional learning in grades 3-6, showed that students who took part in the SEL program were more likely than those who did not, to achieve basic proficiency in reading, writing and math on independently administered state mastery tests.

Job Related Skills

The World Economic Forum published an article titled, The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this article the list the top 10 ranked skills for 2020. I have displayed the rankings below. Notice how many social and emotional skills make this list.

Regardless of the time in history, location, or population involved in the research, it routinely illustrates that a child’s psychological development directly influences their academic and overall life performance. If this is repeatedly proven, why do teachers fight it. Many teachers feel this is just another thing to fit into their busy day and their overwhelming curriculum load. It is actually more important than any other part or piece. If students feel secure and mentally healthy they will learn. Let’s go back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Emotional health is at the base of all needs. If this is the case, how can we teach if we aren’t incorporating SEL?

How far Behind the Curve is the U.S. in the incorporation of Social Emotional Learning in our schools?

For once, the United States is in the lead but only when it comes to conducting SEL research. Europe is right alongside the U.S. in these research efforts. The difference lies in the school curriculum incorporation. The U.S. only began a movement to incorporate SEL into the curriculum in the last 3-5 years. This does not mean that it has not been taught in U.S. schools but there were no guidelines or consistent teaching methods. Guidelines are slowly being developed and teaching methods are becoming more regulated and consistent. This doesn’t mean the U.S. is there yet but we are approaching the target. The distance from the target varies by state.

The Asian countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan produce the highest achieving students in the world based on international test scores. Based on research obtained from CASEL, “What may be surprising to Westerners is the degree to which these examination-driven countries have embraced social-emotional learning (SEL) and assessment.”

Finland continues to lead the way in all aspects of education, and SEL is no different. Guidance and counseling are built in as part of the curriculum in Finland. They are not set up as a separate support role to the schools. This means it is an integral part of the learning process and curriculum, not an afterthought. Notice that the U.S. doesn’t rank in the top 10 at all.

The Irony of the U.S. Not Ranking in Top 10

The irony of this is that 80 percent of Finland’s education model is based on U.S. research. The biggest focus of Finland’s education system is the importance of education and the second is student choice. We have to teach students how to make good choices. This is where the U.S. is lacking. We don’t offer students much choice in their own learning nor do we focus on teaching SEL like we should in order to ensure that good choices are made.

Currently, there is no cohesive international statement defining the minimum requirements for providing SEL in schools. Although, in 2017 Cambridge University began the mission to create one based on research. Unfortunately, in 2020 we still don’t have one. With this said, the U.S. would rank much higher for education if we would listen to ourselves. We know what to do and have the research, we simply choose not to follow it. Despite the knowledge and research, our education system continues to focus on things that continue to produce lacking results, such as ranking schools and standardized testing. The focus must shift to SEL to ensure that we are developing the whole child. This will result in a better economy and a stronger country, in the long run. The first step is to focus on social emotional learning (SEL).

How To Teach Social Emotional Learning?

Although the signing of ESSA caused an upshift in focus on SEL from the education industry, these skills and their importance are not new. Many schools and districts are scrambling to find the right way to teach these newly mandated standards. This is where EDGEucating can help. We at EDGEucating, have been successful at changing school culture. One key factor in changing the culture is to teach SEL. Empowering students is critical to happy and engaged students. Check out our article titled Foster Self-control in Students for more details.

In addition, we encourage the use of a program that has proven successful for us in our school for several years. This comprehensive program incorporates all of the required SEL skills, 21st century skills, and computer science skills all in one.

This organization and their curriculum are not new. They have been using this very curriculum for more than 20 years in their school in Cypress, Greece. I have personally been to the school and observed the curriculum in use with students. Additionally, I have experienced great success at my school in Mississippi. The program is called FUNecole. Ecole means school in french. So their name means, fun school! Trust me when I say that this program will be the answer to your prayers, and not just for SEL. It offers so much more. They are endorsed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and Cambridge University, as well as many others. They recently partnered with Microsoft and are fully aligned to CASEL. This is one program that under promises and over delivers, something we in education aren’t used to.

Use our link below to try FUNecole out free for 6 weeks.

This offer is only available via this link. I promise you will fall in love!  Be sure to use the code word FUNECOLE2020 to get your free trial!

Please send us a quick message to let us what you think of FUNecole after your free trial.

Funding For SEL Curriculum

Schools looking for funding to implement social emotional learning can check out Apeture Education for several funding source ideas.   You can also utilize our article on grant writing to assist you in the process.

Wrap up on SEL

In an Edweek article, Mark Greenberg, a professor of human development and psychology at Pennsylvania State University and a founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, known as CASEL, stated “I think there are districts that feel they have to check SEL off as one thing they’ve done. They purchase curricula and they buy online training, and in most cases, if you go back two years later, you won’t find anything.” This is all too often what we find in education, regardless of the curricula purchased. Don’t be another statistic where nothing changes. Choose to implement a program that works and has history. FUNecole isn’t a trend setter, they are a game changer. SEL is their focus and has been for decades. Make a choice to change your school culture and implement a curriculum that works.

Social emotional learning is too important to simply check a box and say done. By choosing a curriculum that produces results and that does the planning for you, you can’t go wrong. Spend time focusing on teaching the lesson and not planning the lesson. Give students engaging lessons that they want to take part in and success will occur naturally. It won’t happen overnight! This is the additional mistake we find in education, the overnight change that seems to be unrealistically expected. SEL is something that you have to be committed to for the long haul.

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