SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING What is it? Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) focuses on developing the individual qualities, strengths, and assets of a child related to social, emotional, cognitive, and moral development and positive mental health. School-based educational initiatives that focus on youth development, health promotion and problem prevention can be organized through SEL instruction.38 Students learn, apply and practice SEL skills similar to the way that they learn other academic skills through instruction in the classroom. These skills are then reinforced in the classroom by the teacher and other students as situations arise where they need to be applied, throughout the school day, at home and in the community. What are the features of a successful SEL system? Instruction in SEL is taught in the classroom and reinforced throughout the school and can be used as a proactive and preventative way to impart skills that will help avoid behaviors that harm the community. Through various pre-packaged curriculums, SEL can be taught and reinforced in concert with other frameworks such as School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (SWPBIS) or Restorative Justice (RJ) and can easily be coordinated with a broad array of prevention and promotion efforts. Through SEL programs, students learn five key competencies: 38 Ji, P., Axelrod, J., Foster, C., Keister, S., O’Brien, M.U., Ogren, K., &Weissberg, R.P. (2008), A model for implementing and sustaining schoolwide social and emotional learning, The Community Psychologist. 48 How we can fix school discipline Image from CASEL (2013), Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs, Preschool and Elementary School Edition. Self-awareness—Identification and recognition of their own emotions, recognition of strengths in themselves and others, sense of self-efficacy, and self-confidence. Social awareness—Empathy, respect for others, and perspective taking. Responsible decision-making—Evaluation and reflection, and personal and ethical responsibility. Self-management—Impulse control, stress management, persistence, goal setting, and motivation. Relationship skills—Cooperation, help seeking and providing, and communication.39 What does SEL look like in school? SEL instruction can be implemented either through a pre-set curriculum taught in every classroom and/or in coordination with other prevention and promotion efforts, such as SWPBIS or RJ. For example, SWPBIS requires explicit instruction around behavior expectations, and SEL programming can be used to fulfill instruction. Additionally, in RJ circles, students can discuss topics that require SEL competencies, such as “What does it mean to be a good friend?” Teachers teach key competencies similar to and in addition to academic subjects. Effective SEL programming is a coordinated effort: teachers directly teach SEL skills inside classrooms, and parents, administration and other non-instructional staff reinforce SEL skills outside of the classroom. 39 Id.