Social-Emotional Learning is the practice of equipping students with skills and strategies to understand and regulate their own emotional response to situations, navigate interpersonal relationships with peers and adults, and ultimately develop the independent decision-making skills and resilience needed to be successful beyond the classroom.
In many schools, the emphasis on test scores can make it tempting for teachers to focus solely on content. However, taking a step back and supporting students to acknowledge and understand themselves as people - individual people and also people who are also members of a larger community - can help create a more positive context in which this content can be delivered and learning can occur. A growing body of research shows that students supported in social-emotional learning programs develop improved social skills and emotional well-being as well as improved school outcomes, including reduced classroom misbehavior and absenteeism, increased grades and test scores, and higher graduation rates.
Why it's important
Historically, student success has been measured primarily via summative test scores which reflect mastery of targeted skills and content. However, anyone who has worked with students knows that achievement scores are just one piece of an individual student's academic success. Social-emotional learning provides a framework for helping students learn and practice the critical non-academic skills that are necessary to thrive in school and beyond: developing strong and healthy relationships with peers and adults, maintaining a growth mindset and sense of efficacy in the face of challenges, setting and achieving goals, identifying and regulating their own emotions and behaviors, and making responsible decisions. At BetterLesson, we firmly believe that in order to set students up for success in their futures, teachers must ensure that students learn and practice social-emotional skills and habits of success while they are in school.
What success looks like
Student learning in social-emotional skills and habits of success should be ongoing throughout their academic careers. In classrooms where students are regularly given the opportunity to develop those skills:
Students are confident and grounded, able to identify how their emotions and thoughts influence their behaviors in varying circumstances and then respond appropriately.
Students are able to empathize with and gain support when needed from peers, family members and community members at large.
Students have the tools necessary to navigate social situations by listening, communicating, and engaging in effective conflict
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