Why SEL isn’t a dirty word


Key points:

The concept of social emotional learning​​ (SEL) has been around for 30 years—a bit of esoteric, if well-meaning, academia intended to improve the way kids are taught. Post-pandemic, the phrase has somehow entered the culture wars leaving educators with a delicate balance between implementing these essential concepts without becoming politicized. 

If the pandemic taught us nothing else, it’s that the mental health of students is the first and foremost concern to successful teaching and learning—not to mention their parents, teachers, and everyone else associated with that student’s learning experience. So how can educators and admins cope? We sat down with Justina Schlund, Vice President of Communications at Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) to bang out some specific strategies for schools to employ if this becomes an issue in your district. Scroll down for some of the transcribed and edited highlights:

ESN: It’s best to start at the beginning. What is CASEL’s definition of SEL?

JS: You can look on our website for the official definition but basically, social and emotional learning is about developing all of the skills that last a lifetime. Things like staying motivated, communicating really effectively, understanding other people, and making decisions that are good for ourselves, and the community around us. So it is a sort of developmental process that happens from the time we were born, and now throughout our adulthood.

Kevin Hogan
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