What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

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Framework for Systemic Social and Emotional Learning

Systemic SEL is promoted across multiple contexts every day. SEL is more than just a program or lesson. It is about how teaching and learning happens, as well as what you teach and where you learn. CASEL’s widely used framework identifies five core competencies that when prioritized across settings – districts, schools, classrooms, families, and the wider community – can educate hearts, inspire minds, and help students navigate the world more effectively.

Self-awareness: Know your strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

Self-management: Effectively manage stress, control impulses, and motivate yourself to set and achieve goals.

Social awareness: Understand the perspectives of others and empathize with them, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Relationship skills: Communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Responsible decision-making: Make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety, and social norms.

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Creating Environments for Learning

SEL is a deeply ingrained part of the way students and adults interact both in the classroom and out of it, and helps provide children with equitable, supportive, and welcoming learning environments.

SEL Works

More than two decades of research shows that SEL leads to:

  • image Increased Academic Achievement

    According to a 2011 meta-analysis of 213 studies involving more than 270,000 students, those who participated in evidence-based SEL programs showed an 11% point gain in academic achievement.

  • image Improved Behavior

    Studies show decreased dropout rates, school and classroom behavior issues, drug use, teen pregnancy, mental health problems, and criminal behavior.

  • image Strong Return on Investment

    A review of six SEL interventions in evidence-based SEL programs showed that for every dollar invested there was an economic return of 11 dollars.

For more on the benefits of SEL

See SEL Impact

Learn more about SEL

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