Since the concept of schooling began, educators have focused on learning as the primary goal. While this is a promising endeavor, it doesn’t address some of the issues children go through during the process, mainly how to control the emotional and social issues that sometimes cause problems.
This is why many schools implement social-emotional learning (SEL) as part of the curriculum. Established in 1994, SEL is a process to help children develop the essential skills for effectiveness in life, in other words, the skills required to take care of ourselves in adulthood.
SEL concepts go beyond what’s learned in a STEM course plan. First, they apply the concepts to life lessons. For instance, math activities for high school students would go beyond simple calculations. The teacher would apply their lessons to something like personal budgeting.
SEL ideas are regularly applied to lesson plans within International Baccalaureate schools. However, institutions outside of this environment have begun to implement them. For example, classes like Home Economics have been revised under SEL. Instead, they focus on home management.
Several life skills are introduced within the SEL learning cycle. Among these are:
- Recognizing and managing emotions.
- Development of caring and concern for others.
- Establishing positive relationships.
- Making responsible decisions.
- Handling challenging situations constructively and ethically.
SEL is applied to students as young as preschool age. As they begin to understand the concepts, it helps them adopt self-calming measures when angry. Furthermore, they have an easier time making friends, respectfully resolving conflicts, and deciding on the safe and ethical way to react.
Overall School Improvement
Since its inception, programs incorporating SEL skills have been stringently evaluated. For example, a 2017 scientific study revealed that this program promotes academic success and positive behavior; at the same time, it reduces misconduct and emotional distress.
On top of the benefits to students, SEL also helps create a framework for school improvements. For example, when an educator helps develop social and emotional skills, it creates a safe and caring learning environment if a district establishes SEL in a coordinated manner from preschool to high school.
It might seem straightforward to implement SEL into your lesson plans. However, work and training are required to develop a successful strategy. The first thing is to speak with your school administrators about SEL’s benefits. Once approved, the entire staff must participate in SEL courses to understand what’s involved.
Next, get together with your teaching partners. Using the tools provided by the training courses, put together lesson plans that combine STEM with SEL. Finally, make sure to include lessons related to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Overall, don’t force SEL into your plans. Instead, find ways to integrate the lessons so your students receive a solid understanding of the concepts. For example, they can refer to Adobe Education Exchange for additional learning material.