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Notes From The Hill

SEL Helps Students Navigate Today, Prepare for Tomorrow

In recent years, the importance of emotional well-being has become better understood throughout all aspects of society. While this is beginning to occur in classrooms across the country, it is especially prevalent in independent schools as educators are more intentional to help students identify their feelings, understand and communicate with others, build strong relationships, and make good, empathetic decisions.

A social and emotional learning (SEL) approach cultivates emotional intelligence skills, enabling students to manage emotions in their everyday lives, navigate their social and academic demands successfully, and preparing them for their future.

Social-emotional learning competencies include:

Self- awareness: The ability to identify one’s thoughts, emotions, and influences on their behavior, as well as analyze their own strengths and weaknesses.

Self-management: The ability to control one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behavior in a way that is appropriate to their given situation.

Social awareness: The ability to empathize with others and expand their perspective to those from different backgrounds and cultures

Self-awareness: The ability to establish and cultivate healthy relationships with individuals and groups

Preparing Students for the Workplace

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report in 2020: “The top skills and skill groups which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead up to 2025 include groups such as critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.”

In another survey, 92% of executives said skills such as problem-solving and communicating clearly are equal to or more important than technical skills, yet 89% said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding recently graduated candidates with those skills.

Building the Skills to Succeed

While gaining recognition, SEL is not a new concept. It was developed in the mid-1990s when scholars from many fields - including emotional intelligence, child development, prevention science and public health – came together to identify competencies students needed to succeed. These key skills extended beyond math, reading, and other core school subjects.

These critical skills come from the ability to identify emotions and understand their influence on decision making. This emotional intelligence helps students – and adults – make wiser decisions to achieve their goals.

Validating with Research

A review by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) of 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students revealed that students who participated in SEL programs increased their academic performance by 11%.

In the classroom, SEL programming decreased the student dropout rates by about 12%  and lessened behavioral issues. Specifically, physical aggression altercations decreased about by 42%, and bullying among students with disabilities decreased by 20%.

Outside of the classroom, SEL programming has been linked to decreased rates of drug use, teen pregnancy, and criminal activity in students.

Essentially, SEL teaches students how to engage with their environment with more respect and understanding. It gives them a framework to develop healthy self-esteem as well as improve their mental health by reducing depression and stress. SEL also prepares students to engage in an increasingly multicultural environment.


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