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Illuminate Whiteboard Series: The Basics of Social Emotional Learning Competencies

Written by
October 11th, 2017

Presented by Dr. Chris Balow – Transcription below

Introduction 

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the “Illuminate Whiteboard Series.” I’m Dr. Chris Balow, Chief Research Scientist here at Illuminate Education. And we’re here today to talk about social emotional learning competencies. This is a super important area that’s really kind of at the forefront of education right now, so I wanna give you a quick overview of social emotional learning.

What is Social Emotional Learning?
A couple of things, so what is social emotional learning? What does it mean to teach these competencies? Well, really, it’s about addressing and fostering specific behavioral and emotional competencies of students. And you know, it actually has been around for quite a while. We used to call it social skills back, you know, 30 years ago, but it has really evolved into a science with a lot of evidence and research behind it. And it’s really important that we address these needs for students, because the world has really changed for students. Families are disconnected. We have much more multicultural classrooms, and so, there’s a lot of different needs that, in the past, had been met for students, but we really need to address them in school.

The 5 Domains of SEL
So there are five main domains of social emotional learning. The first is self management, where we need to teach kids how to regulate emotions and behaviors. Second, there’s this area of self awareness, where we wanna help students learn how to empathize and feel compassion for others. Now number 3, or c, I should say, is relationship skills where we wanna help students learn how to maintain healthy relationships. And d is responsible decision-making, where we wanna help students learn how to make these constructive choices. And finally, social awareness, awareness of your own emotions and behaviors. And when you think about this constellation of behaviors, these are things that affect kids, not only in their classroom, but for their entire personal life and their vocational life, so these are really life skills.

What Can Educators Do About It?
Now, when we think about kids with low social emotional learning skills, the data is showing us that kids with low social emotional learning competencies have lower school achievement, they have poor attendance, and they demonstrate mental health concerns. When we address the needs of students for social emotional learning skills, we see amazing positive impacts for these students.

A major study of over a quarter million students across the country, which was really a combination of many, many different studies, showed a 9% increase in positive attitudes, a 9% increase in positive classroom behavior, a 23% increase in social skills, and amazingly, an 11% increase in test scores. And there isn’t a teacher, principal or superintendent in the world that wouldn’t wanna see these kinds of increases for their children. Additionally, you see concomitant reductions in conduct problems at 9% and a 10% reduction in depression and anxiety. So clearly, the impacts of teaching social emotional learning skills are really powerful.

Action Plan!
Now, it’s important, schools can effectively teach these skills to their students, but there’s a couple of things you need to keep in mind. First of all, you need to use evidence-based programs and procedures to really make an impact on these kids. You can’t just select any program, so you need to be very mindful of that. Secondly, you must really be careful in your implementation, training, and professional development. So these programs are implemented with fidelity, so they will, in fact, have the intended effects.

Also, you need to think about assessment and measuring student skills in social emotional learning, so use validated assessments that will…so you can universally screen all the kids in your schools as well as progress monitor those students on a regular basis. Additionally, you really need a data system, at your disposal in your school district, to triangulate data, as we say, social emotional learning data with other achievement data.

In Conclusion

My final comment I wanna make is social emotional learning is not just for kids that are struggling academically. Students that are really bright and gifted, they often have deficits in these areas as well, and so this can really impact your entire student population.

So thanks for listening, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this little discussion on social emotional learning competencies.

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3 Comments

  1. David B. Wangaard on October 15, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I applaud the introduction and advocacy for social-emotional learning and only encourage the integration of core ethical values to each of the competencies to connect students to an ethical reason to practice each one.

  2. Gayathri Deepak on October 15, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    In the introduction about the 5 domains of SEL, explanations about self awareness and social awareness are mixed up.

  3. Margaret Boersma on October 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for your article. Just wondering about the name of the study you refer to in your article.

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