Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for diverse others, establish and maintain a range of supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
For all students to benefit, school and SEL efforts must be implemented equitably and intentionally advance equity; promote antiracism; elevate students’ cultural assets, voice, participation, and agency; and foster belonging for all individuals and groups. We recognize the pervasive influence of historical, systemic, and unconscious racism throughout our society. We also believe that SEL skills, such as emotional empathy and perspective-taking, can be learned in ways that foster the courage to name and interrupt corrosive systemic and individual racial bias. Adults need these skills as much as our youth.
When we reference SEL, we recognize its complementary nature to related areas that also stress social and emotional development and the safe, supportive and engaging environments that support it, including: whole child development, positive youth development, character development, 21st century skills, workforce readiness, multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), trauma-informed practice, restorative justice, and positive climate and culture for schools and communities. We also recognize that not all SEL-related efforts must embrace the principles we have noted above regarding equity, antiracism, and belonging. Those principles provide strong guidance to SEL4US in determining our collaborations.
An extensive body of rigorous research (including randomized control trials, longitudinal follow-ups, and multiple replications) demonstrates that education that promotes SEL gets results, and that teachers in all academic areas can effectively teach SEL. Evidence demonstrates that social and emotional learning (SEL) improves mental health, social skills and behavior, academic achievement, and college and career readiness.