Schools can play a pivotal role in providing students with the opportunity to gain greater social and emotional awareness and to practice interpersonal skills as they learn and grow. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) can help students develop the understanding, strategies and skills that support a positive sense of self, promote respectful relationships and build student capacity to recognise and manage their own emotions and make responsible decisions.
Further, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) quality teaching of SEL promotes student satisfaction, success and academic engagement, outcomes and achievement.
For more information, see: Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
SEL can teach children and young people the competencies and skills they need to effectively manage their emotions, behaviour and relationships with others. The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth notes that schools who ensure that SEL is part of their teaching and learning can give students the opportunity to build the resilience to deal with change and unpredictability, an essential skill for positive mental health.
As students graduate towards higher levels of schooling, training and employment, social and emotional skills become increasingly important. Social and emotional competencies can help students in managing stress, deciding on goals and planning for the future.
For more information, see: Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth
SEL can be taught explicitly in the classroom. To support schools in teaching these skills, a suite of teaching and learning activities developed as part of Building Resilience: A Model to Support Children and Young People are now available. CASEL identifies five broad headings under which SEL falls:
Self-awareness: identifying and recognising emotions; recognising personal interests and strengths; maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.
Self-management: regulating emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and motivating oneself to persevere in overcoming obstacles, setting and monitoring progress toward the achievement of personal and academic goals; expressing emotions appropriately.
Social awareness: being able to take the perspective of and empathise with others; recognising and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences.
Relationship skills: establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation and resistance to inappropriate social pressure, preventing, managing, and constructively resolving interpersonal conflict; seeking help when needed.
Responsible decision-making: making decisions based on a consideration of all relevant factors, including applicable ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms; the likely consequences of taking alternative courses of action; evaluation and reflection.
For more information see:
How can schools implement effective social and emotional learning?
Schools are already using a range of strategies in order to implement whole-school approaches to social and emotional learning in many ways. Strategies may include:
- timetabling the explicit teaching of SEL for all classes in school on a regular basis. This may be weekly or fortnightly and may be as short as 10-15 minutes. The Building Resilience Social and Emotional Learning Activities, available for students across years Prep - 12, support schools in delivering comprehensive, evidence-based SEL programs. To access further information about Building Resilience, including the importance of delivering explicit SEL programs, see www.education.vic.gov.au/resilience. A range of teacher self-directed learning materials have also been developed as part of this work to support schools to implement Building Resilience and the SEL program.
- building teacher capacity to promote and explicitly teach SEL. This may include exploring literature around SEL, attending professional learning about SEL or team teaching with a staff member who is comfortable and already explicitly teaching SEL. The Building Resilience Literature Review is a useful starting point to explore the importance of resilience-building and delivering effective SEL programs in schools.
- having classes construct a ‘Getting to Know Me’ book at the beginning of the school year. This book will help children and young people identify and recognise their emotions and their origins. This activity allows students to practice the language of social and emotional awareness; and should be integrated into the explicit teaching of SEL.
- encouraging children and young people to consider the social and emotional wellbeing of others through concepts such as ‘Checking on others in our school…’ or ‘Talking it out…’ Students will be able to practice responses to realistic scenarios using role plays or story writing as an opportunity to discuss, debate, and negotiate class agreement as to the ‘right’ decision in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of others.
- Building Resilience: A Model to Support Children and Young People is based on research which recommends taking a multi-faceted, school wide approach to enhancing resilience. New SEL materials have been developed as part of this model in order to support students to develop the skills they need to to become successful and balanced adults, including decision-making, problem-solving, help-seeking and relationship-building.
- KidsMatter and SEL - KidsMatter has dedicated a component of its mental health in primary schools initiative to SEL. The component explores many aspects of SEL including how it works, how children cope with fears and worries, children, friendships and conflict resolution.
- MindMatters and SEL - MindMatters has SEL resources available for download. The resources explore resilience and bullying in secondary schools.
- The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) - information, guidance and resources on SEL. The site also provides resources including implementation guidance, a school checklist, key research and literature, and professional development resources.
- Response Ability, SEL and Wellbeing - a Commonwealth Government initiative that outlines why promotion of social and emotional learning is important, and strategies to implement including:
- Resilience Education and Drug Information (REDI) includes resources for SEL - while centred on drug information and resources, there is information and resources on SEL for early childhood, primary and secondary settings available on this site