What is Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom?

Discover how to incorporate social emotional learning into the classroom and strategies for classroom implementation.

Teaching can be a very difficult job, and students’ well-being is at the heart of it. That’s why, with the rise of standardized testing, teachers have warned of the repercussions that students may suffer from the lack of social and emotional skills being taught in the classroom. Heeding this warning, many districts have realized that they need to find a balance between stringent testing requirements and the social and emotional welfare of their students.

Discussing social emotional learning is a fairly easy first step, but actually bringing SEL into the classroom setting can be a daunting task. To help you in your efforts, we’ve rounded up some simple ways that you can bring SEL into your classroom, no matter what ages your students are.

1) Establish an SEL Team

Bring together several individuals across a range of genders, cultures, and backgrounds who are enthusiastic about SEL and can lead and represent the district in spearheading SEL implementation. 

2) Define the Goals of SEL in the Classroom

Ensuring that everyone is working toward the same goal is critical when rolling out new curriculum ideas. Familiarize yourself with the 5 SEL Core Competencies and then create a list of goals rooted in each. 

3) Remain Open for Feedback

Create a process in which students and teachers alike are invited to share ideas or concerns in regard to the new SEL curriculum. Even better: Find a way to collect and analyze this data so you can measure the results of incorporating SEL in the classroom.

4) Prepare Teachers with Resources

Providing teachers with a variety of ideas on how to bring SEL into the classroom will inspire and motivate them. Daily check-ins, yoga, and peer work are just a few of many creative ways to create an SEL-focused classroom.

The Effects of SEL

At Naviance, we know the importance of SEL in the classroom, and that’s why it’s a key capability in our CCLR framework. Through SEL, students come to know themselves as individuals, and also learn to be more empathetic toward others. They learn to be better decision-makers, and learn to successfully navigate and resolve conflicts, and speak up for themselves. 

But SEL has a positive impact beyond just the classroom. Incorporating SEL can also help schools and districts become more successful. A study from Washington state underscores this point. In the early 2000s, the Everett Public School system near Seattle had an on-time graduation rate of just 58 percent. In response and in partnership with Naviance, the district began to shift its learning model to one that incorporated SEL. On-time graduation rates began to rise, and today that rate is near 96 percent — a dramatic increase since creating a more holistic approach to education that includes SEL.

Ultimately, when incorporated into classrooms across all grades and ages, SEL has the potential to shape generations of more equitable, compassionate, brave, and resilient people.


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