Educator Development, Teaching Resources
The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning
October is National Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month. This month-long movement is intended to bring awareness to emotional well-being and challenge people to question how they perceive, understand, and manage their emotions on a day-to-day basis.
Achieving emotional well-being would not be possible without having a foundational understanding of social-emotional learning (SEL), which is the process of developing self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Read on to find out four ways that social-emotional learning can be used to set students up for success.
1. Social-emotional learning can foster relationship building and school connectedness
Research has shown that forming close connections with adults is a key component in school success. Using small-group time to promote SEL in the classroom cultivates connections between students and their teachers. These connections can help create an environment that is conducive to an increased amount of work completion and academic achievement.
Small groups can also work to foster peer relationships and generate authentic discussions between peers around topics such as decision-making and self-management. Providing an outlet to talk about current issues students are grappling with improves SEL competency and increases overall school connectedness.
2. Knowledge of social-emotional learning can improve students’ mental health
There is a strong connection between mental health and academic success because poor mental health can negatively influence students’ ability to learn. Many children who come to school with stresses, trauma, and depression are found to be at a higher risk for academic failure as well as mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Most students have not yet developed the capacity, strategies, or tools to handle these outside stressors and emotions, which can make it much more difficult to focus and retain information in school. Training educators and integrating SEL practices that promote positive mental health in the classroom can strengthen resilience in students and, therefore, improve academic outcomes.
3. Community outreach can encourage social-emotional development
Student-led community initiatives can encourage social-emotional development in young people. Innovative projects provide students with a great opportunity to demonstrate their leadership and innovation among their peers and build relationships with the community by giving back. This can build their independence and confidence by building their identities as people who make meaningful contributions to society.
Examples of community outreach could be class field trips to the local recreation center or retirement community to build interpersonal connections, or they could be service-based, such as growing produce in the community garden or donating cans to the local food bank. Exposing students to individuals who share their commitment to giving back, particularly those from different backgrounds, can be a wonderful social-emotional experience for students.
4. Social-emotional learning is needed in a global economy
Teaching social-emotional learning can create the solid foundation needed to utilize these skills in future careers. SEL develops critical thinking, adaptability, and interpersonal communication skills that are essential tools in all job sectors. Having a solid grasp on these qualities prior to applying to jobs in the workforce can set students up for success.
Corporate leaders and hiring agents have emphasized the importance of a multicultural perspective on social and emotional skills as a priority when evaluating candidates. Cultural sensitivity and the ability to work with diverse teams are key skills for employees in any workplace and are developed through SEL practices.
At Participate Learning, we understand that learning is both a social and emotional process for all students. SEL integrates empathy and understanding, prompting educators to set standards for the social health of their classrooms by first celebrating multicultural perspectives and the unique backgrounds of individual students.