Imagine a classroom where teachers are supportive, students are inspired, and children care about one another and are working together to solve challenging problems. That’s social and emotional learning (SEL) in action, and it’s happening in classrooms across the country.
We now know that children can learn respect, empathy, responsible behavior, and other social and emotional competencies that help them succeed in school and life. Research shows that social and emotional skills, attitudes, and behaviors can be taught and fostered throughout the day.
SEL in the classroom takes shape in a variety of ways. It is promoted through explicit instruction, often using an evidence-based program, and should also be integrated across classroom instruction and academic curriculum. SEL plays an important role in classroom climate—for example, how teachers build relationships with students, how students build relationships with each other, and how conflict and discipline are addressed.
Another critical element of classroom SEL is the interaction of teachers and students with parents and community members. This includes parent-teacher interactions, service-learning opportunities, and partnerships with community organizations. SEL, when it’s most effective, is part of daily classroom life where teachers use everyday instruction to foster positive working relationships, increase student engagement, and model constructive behaviors.