When educators weave social and emotional learning into the curriculum and teach, practice, and apply SEL competencies, they lay a foundation for success. Students who learn SEL skills can reap numerous benefits as they transfer their learning from the classroom to the real world. Research shows that SEL can have a positive impact on academics and behavior, resulting in improved achievement. Using the concepts that drive the SEL framework to inform the classroom environment (things we can see) and classroom culture (things we can’t see) positively impact learning.
Creating a Safe Place for Learning
SEL places emphasis on establishing a safe and supportive environment. Creating a safe, caring, and well-managed environment infused with social and emotional skills can reduce if not eliminate learning barriers. Developing SEL skills in self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship building, and decision making will grow students into well-regulated individuals who can contribute in positive ways. Such a climate reflects a reduction in at-risk behaviors and encourages positive interactions. Overall, integrating social and emotional competencies across the curriculum strengthens the learning environment and builds a culture that impacts achieved expectations and academic success.
Using Physical Space
A supportive environment can lead to a positive culture and climate within the classroom community and throughout the school—promoting students’ ability to learn. The physical space is favorably influenced by SEL as a space for working in various group formats where teachers and students can move about freely to foster collaboration and give peer feedback. As a result, student-to-student and teacher-student relationships grow as they are intentionally nurtured in a caring community of learners. Students’ interest in learning activities increases and they value the perspectives and opinions of peers even if an agreement is absent. The facilitation of social awareness and relationship building develops an environment focused on healthy collaboration. Students learn and demonstrate how to collaborate and work in harmony as they strive for success in all aspects of their lives.
Considering Classroom Management
The strategies teachers embed into their instruction help maintain a positive approach to classroom management. The focus is on teaching students to identify their emotions, recognize the emotions of their peers, learn to manage their own behaviors, and reflect on their actions and progress. As students take responsibility for their own behavior, they change their actions to solve and control problematic situations. The integration of SEL is a proactive move that schools and teachers can take to establish and maintain a culture and climate that leads to productivity in the classroom and across the campus. SEL skills equip educators and students to face challenges and more effectively collaborate with each other.