Social and Emotional Learning is the New Buzz!

July 22, 2019 – AWE Learning Staff

Have you heard of ‘social and emotional learning’ but not sure what it refers to? Social and emotional learning (SEL) has become an increasingly popular term. It is defined as the process for which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Students spend more than 30 hours a week in school. They are constantly interacting with their peers and building their social skills throughout the school day. Social and emotional learning gives students the skills to create a positive school climate which leads to academic success and building problem solving and communication skills both in the classroom and for their future work environment.

Students and adults can face many challenges throughout their years in and out of school and the workplace. Kids are tasked at making friends with their peers, learning the content they are being taught, succeeding at academics, and more, while adults face their own challenges in balancing work, family, and social events. Social and emotional learning has become an important buzzword to help a child flourish. As both children and adults, we are faced with stresses and go through a whirlwind of different emotions. Social and emotional learning helps us to breakdown these feelings and make appropriate decisions in the moment. Through SEL instruction, we are focusing on how to recognize, understand, label, express, and regulate our own emotions.

Studies have shown that in addition to academic achievement in the classroom, social and emotional learning leads to improved behavior. This is illustrated by decreases in dropout rates, school and classroom behavior issues, drug use, teen pregnancy, mental health problems, and criminal behavior. In addition to the positive behavioral impacts, research has demonstrated that for ever dollar invested in social and emotional learning programs, there is an economic return of eleven (11) dollars.

Social and emotional learning is broken down into five (5) categories:

  1. Self-awareness: The ability to recognize one’s emotions and how they translate them into our own behaviors
  2. Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s feelings and behaviors
  3. Social awareness: The ability to empathize with others
  4. Relationship skills: The ability to cooperate and communicate with others and resolve conflicts
  5. Responsible decision-making: The ability to make safe and smart decisions

With the increase of technology used in the classroom and the workplace, the integration of technology for social and emotional learning is no surprise. Digital resources create more learning opportunities for SEL instruction. Technology (programs like G-Suite and Office 365) encourage collaboration within the classroom. Artificial intelligence gives teachers the tools to provide personalized learning, in order to target the needs of their individual students. Mixed reality, the combination of virtual and augmented reality, gives students a chance to practice and build their SEL skills in a virtual environment. The incorporation of digital learning tools in SEL instruction gives students a method to both observe and practice social-emotional skills.

Social and emotional learning improves students’ attitudes toward learning and their self-efficacy. With a positive outlook, students are more likely to be internally motivated to succeed in the classroom, having a long-lasting impact on their future role in the workplace. Social and emotional learning helps children to recognize their emotions, rather than simply react to them. It allows the child to effectively communicate and evaluate the situation to make the right decision which will carry on into their adulthood.

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