The Important Role of SEL in Today’s Classrooms

Reading Plus

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  –Aristotle

While the roots of social-emotional learning are decades-old—the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) was created in 1994 but SEL has its modern origins as early as the 1960s—the level of awareness and urgency to incorporate SEL into classrooms has never been greater than it is today. 

CASEL defines social-emotional learning as “an integral part of education and human development” that can “help all young people and adults thrive personally and academically, develop and maintain positive relationships, become lifelong learners, and contribute to a more caring, just world.” In August 2021, the U.S. Department of Education released a “Return to School Roadmap” that cites “supporting students’ social, emotional, and mental health” as one of its three “Landmark” priorities in the 2021-22 school year. 

SEL has also been the topic of many discussions on how best to support students returning to school after months of disrupted learning and remains a priority for schools, even as they also figure out how to accelerate students’ learning.

The role of SEL in today’s classroom is an important one. CASEL provides a comprehensive plan for integrating SEL in the classroom, with an evidence-based SEL program at its core. In the absence of or in support of such a program, educators can still integrate social-emotional learning and promote the development of SEL competencies into their daily classroom instruction. 

The articles below are just a small sample of the information, ideas, and recommendations available to help educators integrate SEL into their schools and classrooms.

How to Embed SEL Into Your Instruction

Article from Edutopia

In this spring 2021 Edutopia article, author Ashley Taplin discusses effective ways to integrate SEL into classroom instruction. Critical to successfully embedding SEL into instruction, explains Taplin, is providing students with the “why” behind social-emotional learning. The result is a more supportive and equitable classroom environment.

  • Place your “why” for activities within the context of SEL core competencies can make those activities even more impactful for students.
  • When asking questions, frame the language with an SEL focus to foster an environment that is supportive and equitable.

25 Simple Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning Throughout the Day

Article from We Are Teachers

Providing a comprehensive yet simple list of ways that teachers can integrate SEL into their classrooms, author Elizabeth Mulvahill focuses on connection, collaboration, and communication as keys to supporting social-emotional learning for students. From check-ins at the start and end of the day to ways to nurture a culture of kindness, Mulvahill reinforces the importance of SEL skills both in and outside of the classroom. 

  • Practice mindfulness with students to help alleviate anxiety and further develop social-emotional awareness.
  • Help students recognize powerful emotions and learn key strategies for managing their emotions.

The above articles provide several practical ideas and suggestions for integrating social-emotional learning into your daily classroom instruction. Your existing curriculum—whether core and supplemental—may also offer resources and tools to support the development of your students’ SEL skills and competencies. 

Learn More about how Reading Plus supports the development of SEL competencies