Deep Dives

What Research Tells Us About Adult SEL: Four-Part Webinar Series – Part 2 Recap

April 17, 2023
What Research Tells Us About Adult SEL: Four-Part Webinar Series – Part 2 Recap

When we talk about adult SEL, what do we mean? The CASEL definition describes SEL as the shared process of human development across the lifespan. Just as for students, for adults SEL provides a means to develop, practice, and deepen five core competencies that offer lifelong benefits. 

Adult SEL also includes a focus on partnerships among schools, families, and communities to build the skills and well-being that contribute to thriving communities. These partnerships allow adults to establish the trusting relationships that ultimately lead to more meaningful learning experiences for all.

Part 2 of our four-part webinar series Leaders as Learners: Cultivating Adult SEL focused on the research about adult SEL, as presented by: 

  • Summer Braun, Ph.D.: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Alabama
  • Dan Gilbert, Director of Whole Child Initiatives, Afterschool Alliance
  • Kamilah Legette, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Denver

Watch the webinar recording below, or read on for key takeaways. 

Social and emotional competencies are as important to teachers as they are to students, supporting teachers’ overall well-being, their job performance, and their impact on students.

“[T]eachers’ own emotional competencies … are predictive if we’re thinking about teachers’ reports of depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout. Those teachers who were more mindful reported that they had greater self-compassion and struggled less with depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout, suggesting here that these social-emotional competencies are really helpful in protecting teachers from these negative kinds of experiences that they often have.”—Braun

“We found that teachers who were engaged in more cognitive reappraisal—a healthy emotion-regulation strategy in which you look at an emotionally trying situation from a different perspective—had students … who reported that they were less emotionally distressed, less anxious, and less depressed.”—Braun

Deepening social and emotional competencies equips teachers to cultivate their own capacity to identify and redress racial inequities in the classroom.

“I was talking with a frontline practitioner in an out-of-school time program focused on equity in Colorado, and they were talking about how some young people at the beginning of the pandemic actually felt more safe attending programs virtually. When you think of just feeling like you are in a safe and supportive learning environment as an enabling condition for SEL, it’s so sad for so many young people that they feel more safe not at school, not just from a physical safety perspective, but from bias and the preexisting ideas that other people may have about them, even their own teacher.”—Legette

“School is supposed to be the safe space where everyone feels included and feels valued … but we also have to remember that it’s not for all students. And so we can’t always think that the school is a safe space if we’re not creating these equitable practices to create an inclusive environment.”—Braun

Out-of-school time program providers have a powerful role to play in supporting student SEL and connecting families and students with schools.

“In out-of-school time settings, it’s important to consider the adult modeling of social and emotional skills and the intentional instruction around SEL, but also the context of relationships with caring adults in the presence of safe and supportive learning environments that can serve as enabling conditions for the social-emotional development of the young people as well … . [O]ut-of-school time settings [are] ripe for both SEL for the young people and for the adults or the young adult professionals working in those settings, as well as for the establishment of developmental relationships.”—Gilbert

“Out-of-school time programs do frequently have stronger relationships with parents and families than schools do, not just because they’re more representative of the populations they serve, but also because they often naturally have more points of contact and interaction between parents and other family members and program providers; think of when kids get picked up or dropped off from programs. And [out-of-school time programs] are also not burdened by some of the biases that family members may have originating from their own experiences in school.”—Gilbert

Did you miss Part 1? Read the recap. For more on adult SEL, register for the four-part Leaders as Learners series. Join us on May 10 at 11 a.m. EDT for Part 3: What promising practices are emerging on adult SEL?

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