Social and Emotional Learning SEL

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a methodology designed to help students process and develop their emotions and interpersonal skills. By applying SEL to their classrooms, teachers help students develop self-awareness and control, responsible decision-making, problem-solving skills, and empathy.

What is SEL

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) refers to the process of developing and acquiring skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for understanding and managing emotions, establishing positive relationships, demonstrating empathy, and making responsible decisions.

SEL equips students with the ability to recognize and regulate their emotions, empathize with others, establish healthy relationships, and navigate challenges effectively.

The importance of SEL in education

The benefits of SEL are clear: improved classroom behavior and learning outcomes, increased empathy, and better problem-solving and communication skills.

Students that are supported in their emotional and social well-being are more engaged in class, better at managing their emotions, and more resilient. 

Students benefit from SEL because it teaches them important life skills that they will need to create meaningful relationships and rewarding careers. By better understanding themselves and those around them, they can build self-esteem, deepen their empathy for others, and take responsibility for themselves and their communities. 

Students are not the only beneficiaries of SEL. By including SEL in their curricula, teachers can manage and monitor their students’ learning successes and well-being and stage interventions early on. Better awareness of their students’ needs and emotions allows teachers to prepare more targeted lessons and leads to a more satisfying classroom environment for everybody.

Teachers who implement SEL in their classrooms report higher motivation levels, better workplace satisfaction, and an overall more enjoyable and productive classroom environment.

Implementing SEL in the classroom

At first glance, it might be daunting to implement SEL in your classroom. After all, social and emotional learning is a complex and highly individualized issue. 

Teachers can use several strategies to implement SEL in their curricula: 

  • run regular student check-ins that inform the the 'temperature' of the classroom and activities for the day. Ask questions that support emotional growth toward themselves and other
  • build a classroom community: holding regular class meetings where students voice their concerns, create opportunities for group work and positive peer-to-peer feedback, include role play 
  • give agency to students: set clear goals and allow students to monitor their own progress, assign simple tasks to create ownership and a sense of responsibility, support students to mediate interpersonal conflicts
  • teach empathy: use read-alouds to discuss characters’ motivation and actions, teach active listening, use creative writing and role plays

Our SEL lesson ideas focus on both SEL for self reflection, and SEL for interpersonal reflection.

The research behind SEL

SEL is widely studied and proven to work. Research has shown that students who were supported in their social and emotional learning journey were over 40% less likely to be involved in physical aggression; students with disabilities were 20% less likely to be bullied. 

A meta-analysis examining the effect of SEL on more than 270,000 students showed that SEL improved academic performance, classroom behavior, and self-image, and decreased stress levels.

If you want to know more about the latest advances in SEL research, practice, and policy, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning website has many additional resources, including an open-access journal exclusively dedicated to SEL.

You don’t have to become an SEL expert and read countless studies to implement the methodology in your classroom. Ziplet bases its SEL interventions on rigorous research to ensure that your actions create the biggest possible impact on your students. Ziplet has been assigned a research-based design product certification and are certified by the Education Alliance Finland. 

Example questions to support SEL

Ziplet's question bank contains over 250 editable, research-backed questions to support teachers to check-in with their students, including many SEL questions. The ability to enable anonymous responses results in authentic responses from students, and our reply functionality means you can further support and understand students.

Some great questions from our question bank include:

  • What is one thing you mastered this year that you thought was going to be difficult?
  • What is something you are proud of this week?
  • How well did you prepare for this assessment - what could you have done better?
  • What did you learn about working with others this term?
  • How did you support your peers thisweek?

Read our 7 SEL questions every teacher should be asking their students.

Following up with students

A critical element of SEL check-ins is following up and letting students know they have been heard.

In Ziplet, this can be an emoji reaction to a positive response, or a personalised reply to the student with follow-on support. There's also an option to send one reply to multiple students, which they receive individually. This allows you to save time while still acknowledging each student.

For those students who require further support, there may be one-on-one or peer conversations, connecting students with relevant resources, or arranging follow-up appointments with support services. Follow-up support demonstrates a commitment to students' ongoing wellbeing and reinforces the school as a caring community.

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