What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
My simple definition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) – the ability to manage our emotions, build strong relationships, and live in a state of empathy, joy and empowerment.
When you are feeling angry, irritated, overwhelmed in COVID, struggling to initiate caring communication, and bewildered by others’ choices and self-awareness, you are in the midst of a SEL experience.
You can adapt to and adopt effective strategies, or you can succumbed to its effects.
CASEL defines SEL as “how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
CASEL’s five core competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Why SEL Training is So Important During COVID
No one is immune to the effects of COVID. No one can argue that our children are particularly affected. I share the concern of educators and experts in the Social Emotional Learning field that unless we implement measure ASAP to safeguard our children’s mental and emotional health, the long-term fallout of social isolation may be dire.
Many educators, tossed into this new and challenging environment, are working tirelessly to address academic needs. Although most appreciate and acknowledge the importance of relationships, they are begrudgingly forced into deprioritizing its immediate importance.
How Can We Support the “Whole Person”?
The “whole person” theory includes all elements of human development. SEL development is an integral part of this theory. Research shows that SEL development is also critical for academic performance.
The COVID Upheaval
The upheaval we are experiencing now is hard on everyone: children, teens, young adults, parents, educators, and the community. Parents are having a hard time working from home (or not working) while teaching – not just supporting – children. Educators are no longer doing the work they loved because they are tossed into a hybrid learning model that even they don’t like.
Life skills do not just include knowing math, geography and how to balance a check book. They include the ability to read a room, manage emotions and self manage.
Regardless of the difficulty in our current situation, we can’t allow SEL de-prioritization. Without attending to our relationships, and managing our emotions, we will not be able to come out the other side “whole” and “united”.