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Social-emotional learning focuses on helping students develop social-emotional skills that are essential for:
- working with others
- building resiliency
- achieving goals
- reducing bullying and risk behaviours (substance use)
Social-emotional skills are foundational for success in school and in life.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified 5 connected sets of competencies:
- Recognizing emotions and assessing ones’ strengths and challenges.
- Controlling emotions and impulses, managing stress, self-motivation and setting and achieving goals.
- Social awareness
- Identifying others’ emotions, showing empathy and understanding other perspectives.
- Relationship skills
- Building healthy relationships, communication skills, conflict resolution, working, playing and learning with others.
- Responsible decision-making
- Making wise choices and evaluating potential consequences.
Placing value on the following ideas is important for effective social-emotional learning practices. Social-emotional learning is fundamental to building the following traits:
- positive social behaviour
- health and well-being
- ethical development and citizenship
- academic learning
Social-emotional skills need to be taught and can improve with opportunities to practice in different contexts.
Social-emotional learning requires a long-term, whole-school approach that involves families and community partners.
Research shows that students receiving quality social-emotional learning instruction showed:
- better academic performance
- achievement scores were an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive social-emotional learning instruction
- improved attitudes and behaviours
- greater motivation to learn
- increased time devoted to schoolwork
- better classroom behaviour
- fewer disruptive behaviours
- less noncompliance, aggression and disciplinary referrals
- reduced emotional distress
- fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress and social withdrawal
Social-emotional practices will vary depending on the needs of the students and the resources and priorities of the school community. A whole school approach builds on the instruction of social-emotional outcomes in Alberta’s Wellness Programs of Study.
The following fictional examples show what social-emotional learning could look like in practice.
Teachers work together across grade levels to include social-emotional learning into daily instruction. Activities include:
- read-aloud stories on related topics
- guided discussion
- role playing and problem-solving
- opportunities to reflect on and demonstrate learning through writing, art and presentations
Students can take home materials that reinforce social-emotional learning with families.
Monthly school events highlight specific social-emotional skills, reinforce new learning and introduce ideas for using skills across different contexts.
Middle school/Junior high school
At the beginning of the school year, school staff work together to create a shared understanding of social-emotional learning. They use this to develop strategies for using social-emotional competencies in academic and extra-curricular activities. School wide events use the language of social-emotional learning and focus on positive relationships and responsible decision-making.
School staff develop learning modules that reinforce social-emotional competencies. English teachers work together to plan literature projects that explore social-emotional learning at each grade-level. School publications, signage and events use the language of social-emotional learning.
Social-Emotional Learning Resources Fact Sheet
Building a shared understanding : Social-Emotional Learning (PDF, 211 KB)
Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University
The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities
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