What Is SEL? Skills for Learning, Skills for Life

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

  • SEL is the process through which children and adults develop skills for: decision-making, communication, cooperation, conflict resolution, resiliency, and developing healthy relationships for work and play.
  • SEL helps students become: self-aware, self-managed, and self-directed within healthy relationships and a productive life.
  • In short, SEL is the process of developing students who are knowledgeable, confident, responsible, and caring individuals.
  • As students become emotionally and socially competent, they are better able to: focus themselves, persevere through a difficult task, collaborate in a group, learn from a mistake, set goals and priorities, and develop other skills that affect academic achievement.

What is Needham's approach to Social and Emotional Learning?

  • A set of competencies guides Needham's program. These competencies fall into three general areas: self-awareness and self-management, social and interpersonal skills, and decision-making.
  • These skills are to be reinforced, extended, and applied to age-appropriate situations at each grade level.
  • Schools strive to establish classroom and school routines to offer students the opportunity to practice and receive feedback and reinforcement on their use of the skills. Finally, school leaders act to shape a school culture that will provide a safe place for students to practice skills and where adults model the skills.
  • The importance of school culture and faculty culture is emphasized and monitored using the Organizational Health Inventory (OHI) created by Hoy & Associates.

How does SEL relate to other educational and social initiatives?

  • Needham's SEL program is tied to our work in anti-racism, standards-based instruction, prevention education, mentoring, character education, global education, and service learning.
  • All of these areas cover similar concepts and utilize the same skills. For example, anti-racism involves the use of problem-solving, social communication, and ally skills in complicated and high stakes situations.
  • As part of SEL, students learn to apply the same skills that they have used in everyday circumstances to more difficult and charged situations.
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