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What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social and Emotional Learning refers to five interrelated competency areas as identified by the Collaborative for
Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). These five areas are:

• Self Awareness: to identify • Relationships: to participate

and label one’s own feelings in a group, communicate
effectively, work toward
• Social Awareness: to
common goals, and peacefully
empathize with others, show
resolve conflicts
respect, and appreciate diversity
• Responsible Decision
• Self-Management: to
Making: to analyze situations,
complete difficult tasks, self-
make responsible decisions, and
motivate, ask for help when
problem solve in challenging
needed, and focus attention

Social and Emotional Skills The Importance of Social

Strong social and emotional skills Students can be taught strong and Emotional Learning
are critical to being a successful social and emotional skills
Research shows that students with strong
student, upstanding citizen, and through:
SEL skills display:
productive worker. Integrated, • Direct classroom instruction
multi-year efforts to develop • Better academic performance: Students
in SEL
students’ social and emotional who receive SEL instruction scored
• Student engagement in an average of 11 percentile points
skills can prevent or reduce:
positive activities higher on achievement tests
• Drug use
• Parent and community • Improved attitudes and behaviors
• Violence involvement
• Fewer negative behaviors
• Bullying
• Reduced emotional distress
• Dropping out of school

The importance of Social and Emotional

Learning is recognized in the RI Basic
The SEL Connection to Academics and Educational Plan (BEP) and the RI Model of
the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Teacher Evaluation and Support System. They
both call for creating an environment of respect

Social and emotional skills are implicitly embedded in for teachers and students that builds positive

the CCSS, but are sometimes not obvious to teachers, relationships, promotes school engagement,
administrators, and policy makers. Social and emotional academic success, and student pride.
competencies are vital foundational skills for students to
be successful in meeting the standards.
Many students exhibit behavioral challenges
The CCSS require students to master complex text and use critical thinking that are rooted in a lack of social and
skills. In order to be successful, students need to have the corresponding SEL emotional skills. These skills can be taught.
skills such as the ability to: Just as school wide approaches in literacy
• Persevere through • Demonstrate empathy support all students, including those with
challenging tasks literacy needs, school wide approaches in SEL
• Establish and maintain
support all students, including those with
• Understand and positive relationships with behavioral challenges. Research shows we
manage emotions peers and teachers should provide instruction, not punishment,
• Set and achieve goals • Make responsible decisions to children with social and emotional needs.
Social and Emotional Learning
in Rhode Island Schools
South Kingstown
“Students are taught the ‘Zones of
School District Regulation’, which is a tool to help them
South Kingstown has begun calm down if they are agitated. Four
implementing a district- colors (Green, Yellow, Blue, Red) help us
wide plan to systemically recognize and understand our feelings
incorporate Social and and the feelings of others. This consistent
Emotional Learning into its practice that comes from the elementary
SEL Skills are Needed curriculum for all students. schools to the middle school has made the

to be College This culturally responsive de-escalation of some students easier and

faster, which results in fewer disciplinary
system of support has
and Career Ready identified various evidence- referrals. These skills can be used in all
Social and emotional skills are based practices for use at areas of our lives, and the terminology
vitally important for success in different levels from K-12. is becoming common language in the
college, work, and in building schools in South Kingstown.”
positive relationships with others. — Kathy Egan, Principal, Broad Rock
Without SEL, many youngsters Middle School, South Kingstown
struggle in school, and later as adults
in the workforce and in society. Kupers, L.M. Zones of Regulation

Sherman School,
One teacher
reported that Warwick, RI
“Yoga has helped Sherman Elementary School is a Positive Behavioral
tremendously. It Interventions and Supports (PBIS) school where
really works and adults teach and model expected behaviors.
empowers my With support from an outside agency, they teach
Bringing SEL to students to calm mindfulness and yoga to all students in all classes.
the Classroom themselves and be Teachers participate in these activities and help
open to learning.” students generalize the skills. Their behavioral data
There exists with some, a belief
shows less office referrals on the days yoga occurs.
that our students come to school
equipped with well developed
social and emotional skills. This
is not always the case, and it often
falls on educators to teach these
The International
As one member of
extremely valuable life skills. Charter School the school community
But where do we begin? CASEL The International Charter School is a diverse, describes it, “Social
has produced the 2013 Guide to dual language K-5 elementary school with and emotional learning
Effective Social and Emotional 326 students located in Pawtucket, RI. This strengthens classroom
Programs, which is available on school uses several complementary programs instruction by teaching
their website at The and strategies to create a comprehensive and skills that improve
guide is intended to help schools systematic way to provide explicit instruction students’ ability to learn.”
and teachers identify programs in social and emotional skills. These universal
that will best meet their needs, strategies are embedded throughout every
by providing an independent and classroom and are a vital and consistent part of the school day. Teachers describe
objective review and rating of the social and emotional learning component as a proactive, student-centered,
evidence-based SEL curricula. community-building approach to classroom management.

For More Information, Contact : Alice Woods at or 401.222.8983

Susan Constable at or 401.222.8984 or