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The Importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

SEL Teacher working with student

In the past few years, social emotional learning (SEL) has taken center stage and become recognized as a necessary and fundamental part of education, as students have been forced to cope with challenges well beyond the typical scope of a school day. According to the National Education Association, SEL works. The U.S. government believes social emotional learning is so important that they've earmarked an additional $63 million in funding for SEL in 2023.

What Is Social Emotional Learning?

Social emotional learning is a process designed to help students develop the social and emotional skills they need to be able to effectively manage emotions. SEL also gives students tools to help them build healthy relationships, make smart decisions, and achieve success in goal setting. The importance of SEL is multifaceted and far-reaching, as it has a significant impact on individuals, schools, communities, and society as a whole.

Benefits of SEL

Improved academic performance: Social emotional learning strengthens a student's ability to self-regulate, fostering motivation and resilience. SEL tools directly improve academic performance.

Audrey Jackson, upper-elementary school counselor in Bedford, Massachusetts; former fifth-grade inclusion teacher in Boston Public Schools; and 2016 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, maintained in an interview with WGBH: "Having tools to navigate things when they don't go as expected, or something feels hard, really sets up a path for their brains to be able to develop and solidify memory."

Positive social and emotional development: SEL helps students develop empathy and self-awareness, creating better coping skills and the ability to create healthy relationships. These skills help students navigate unexpected challenges more easily.

Behavior management: Because SEL improves a student's ability to regulate emotion and communicate more effectively, it helps to reduce behavioral problems, such as bullying, aggression, and substance abuse.

Mental health benefits: SEL improves mental health outcomes for students by improving well-being, reducing episodes of anxiety and depression, and providing students with the tools they need to deal with stress.

Workplace success: SEL is the precursor to developing the soft skills that are so highly sought after in the workplace. Students provided with social emotional learning opportunities in school attain improved conflict management and collaboration skills.

Backed by Research

In "The effects of school-based social and emotional learning: A meta-analytic review" by Joseph A. Durlak, Allison B. Dymnicki, Rebecca D. Taylor, and Roger P. Weissberg, the authors found a wide range of statistically significant benefits to SEL, including:

  • 9% decrease in conduct problems, such as classroom misbehavior and aggression
  • 10% decrease in emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression
  • 9% improvement in attitudes about self, others, and school
  • 23% improvement in social and emotional skills
  • 9% improvement in school and classroom behavior
  • 11% improvement in achievement test scores

– Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Student Benefits: Implications for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Core Elements

Technology Empowers SEL in the Classroom

It takes a coordinated effort to ensure that all students have opportunities each day to build social and emotional skills and care for their overall well-being. Technology can make it easier for schools to scale SEL initiatives and make SEL more accessible. – Sara Potler LaHayne, EdWeek Market Brief

Indeed, technology can help make it easier for educators to implement SEL in their classrooms and for schools, and districts can monitor and manage outcomes to ensure that students are receiving the support they need. And investing in SEL is not only good for classrooms and schools. The benefits extend, as well, to individuals, families, communities, and workplaces.

Why School Day

School Day is the best K-12 solution for measuring and managing student well-being and social-emotional skills. School Day asks students weekly questions that focus on learning, social relationships, and health. The data is analyzed, furnishing real-time insight and highlighting what's going well; resources are provided for the areas that need more attention. We are Education Alliance Finland certified and an SETDA Emerging Markets partner.

Learn more at https://schoolday.com 

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