Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the “process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” (CASEL).
The increased attention that schools have placed on SEL in recent years is the result of the accumulating evidence that a child’s academic performance is deeply related to their social-emotional competence and wellness. For example, strong social-emotional skills are related to:
- Higher levels of academic performance (e.g., grades)
- Higher levels of educational attainment (e.g., enrollment in post-secondary institutions),
- Increased attendance, and
- Higher levels of academic engagement (e.g., on-task behavior)
Given these findings, SEL skills can be thought of as “academic-enablers,” or skills that allow students to more consistently and effectively engage, participate, and benefit from classroom instruction.
Beyond academic functioning, students with strong social-emotional skills also report stronger and more healthy interpersonal relationships, higher levels of subjective well-being, fewer mental health symptoms (e.g., anxiety and depression), and reduced engagement in risk-taking behavior (e.g., substance use).
From a community perspective, evidence from Columbia University’s Center for Cost-Benefit Analysis found that for every $1 spent on SEL programming, the return on investment is $11 in long-term benefits to students, schools, and communities.
Social Emotional Learning in PSB
In the Public Schools of Brookline, our educators use a variety of practices to support the wellness and social-emotional development of students. For example, educators often target SEL by embedding into teaching routines (e.g., beginning the day with a community-building activity), infusing it into academic curricula (e.g., reflecting on the emotional experiences of a character), or by teaching it explicitly (e.g., teaching students how to manage stress).
Given the context of the last 18 months, our SEL work during the 2021-2022 school year will be intentionally designed to:
- Build strong adult-student relationships
- Create safe, supportive, and affirming classroom and school communities, and
- Establish school and classroom routines
By investing time and resources in SEL, we will help ensure that all of our students are emotionally and psychologically prepared to engage in learning. In this context, our commitment to SEL will help increase student learning and engagement.