Voices from the Field

Voices from the Field is a place for administrators, teachers, school support staff, community, and family members to learn what experts -- researchers, practitioners, family -- from across the country think by reading a short post that includes the latest promising practices on a range of school climate topics, along with references and related resources.

How are you integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) into your schools and classrooms?

Growing Consensus

Teachers and researchers agree: SEL is integral to student success. In a recent article, sixth-grade teacher Brett Bohstedt discussed the importance of teaching students ways to handle their stress, regulate their emotions, and increase their attention—skills needed for students to navigate school successfully. In addition, numerous studies have demonstrated that teachers who focus on students’ SEL skills help them to improve their academic achievement and prosocial behaviors and lead them to display fewer behavioral problems.

How can teachers promote SEL skills?

There are numerous ways in which teachers can promote SEL, including:

  1. Implementing a SEL program
  2. Developing a safe and supportive classroom environment
  3. Using instructional strategies that promote the development of academic, social, and emotional learning.

What does SEL promotion look like?

Here are some examples of how teachers can successfully promote SEL when providing students opportunities to apply their own SEL skills:

  • In order for students to develop self-awareness (which includes the identification of their strengths and limitations), they must be given opportunities to reflect on how well they accomplished a learning target and on the strategies they used to accomplish that target.
  • To effectively accomplish the collaborative work required by the Common Core State Standards, students must learn to effectively communicate with their classmates about academic tasks. For example, communicating with a classmate about a mathematical concept looks different than communicating with a classmate about literature. Students need opportunities to learn how to be successful in those academic conversations.

These are only a few of the ways in which teachers can make small shifts in their current instructional practices to integrate SEL in the classroom. It is critical for teachers, administrators, and district personnel to continue to build connections between SEL and academic standards and to identify instructional strategies that integrate the development of students’ social, emotional, and academic skills.

American Institutes for Research

U.S. Department of Education

The contents of the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Web site were assembled under contracts from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Supportive Schools to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Contract Number  91990021A0020.

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