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powerful Social Emotional Learning strategies

social emotional learning curriculum


Can social emotional learning be taught?

Of course, it can! It must be taught intentionally. Social emotional learning skills, tools, and strategies are often learned or neglected by way of our environment. If we have parents, educators, pastors, friends, and family who operate on a high standard of SEL, that is likely what the young people around us will learn as well. On the other hand, if the opposite of the community and culture is true, so will the opposite likely be true for the young people around us.

Social-emotional learning is the process in which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (CASEL, 2017). There are 5 core competencies we will discuss in this blog so you get a feel for where you and your loved ones should be when it comes to your social emotional learning skills and strategies.

Intro to Social Emotional Learning

What are the 5 concepts of social emotional learning?

Because we are social beings, we need to be able to successfully interact with others in our culture and communities. We want to promote positive interactions at work, school, church, the grocery stores, and everywhere else we go. As previously mentioned, we must establish healthy relationships, feel and show empathy for one another, understand and manage our emotions, and set and achieve goals. To accomplish these, we focus on the 5 core competencies of social emotional learning. They include Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making. Grab your journal and get ready to take notes as we break down the 5 pillars of social emotional learning.

social emotional learning Competency A: Self-Awareness 

The ability to accurately recognize your emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing your strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism. Consider yourself in this definition. Can you accurately recognize your own thoughts and emotions, or do you use pop culture slang to tell people how you feel? I find that, as a society, we have gotten so comfortable with being on trend that we are giving up a sense of self in order to fit in.

We get incited by what a specific leader is saying instead of thinking for ourselves. We are doing things that we might have thought we would never do. Social emotional learning skills and strategies are designed to help us focus or refocus on discovering ourselves and encouraging us to move toward integrity, confidence, and optimism about what we find out. To become self-aware is to truly understand what we think and feel and to accept those thoughts and feelings or change them.

social emotional learning Competency B: Self-Management

The ability to regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating yourself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals. Consider yourself in this definition. How well do you manage all aspects of your life while maintaining mental and emotional harmony? If you are incompetent in this strategy everyone knows it because it can be seen outwardly. You will be visibly shaken by anything and everything that goes on around you if you do not self-manage well.

Motivation can be a complicated concept. Many of us are self-motivated, self-driven people. However, there are some who lack motivation and need it to come from outside sources. While social emotional learning tools may not make you get up and get going, they will make you aware of the need to do so. They will also offer you skills and strategies to teach you how to get yourself moving in the direction you say you want to go.

social emotional learning Competency C: Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This includes understanding social and ethical norms for behavior, and recognizing family, school, and community resources and supports. Consider yourself in this definition. Are you able to look at situations and events from diverse perspectives in your life? If you never think about how your words and behaviors affect other people, your social awareness skills are off. You will appear to be self-absorbed and uncaring.

Do you only tolerate people or are you truly able to empathize with the plight of others? If you’re willing to show compassion toward others, you may be able to solve some of your community’s problems. Working with people who do not look like you is imperative. Even if you function in a community which is predominantly like you, at some point you will need and want to operate outside of that environment. What will you do then? Becoming more socially aware will help you navigate your life more successfully no matter where you live. Social and emotional learning skills and strategies are designed to help you in this area.

social emotional learning Competency D: Relationship Skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with diverse individuals and groups. Developing relationship skills promotes the ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist social and peer pressure, negotiate conflict, and seek help or offer it to others. How do you hold up to this definition? Communication is key to any relationship. When was the last time you had a misunderstanding that you did not go back and revisit? When we want to build relationships, we must become proficient in the necessary skills it takes to do so.

Since relationships are not one-sided, you want to be intentional about who you enter one with. Social and emotional learning tools can help you decide who you should be in relationship with. Are you trying to build with people who are uninterested in being healthy? Do you both have an understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like? When you make decisions, you must focus on more than yourself as well. Considering how the other person in the situation might think or feel about what you’re saying or doing is important. As I mentioned earlier, if you do not respect how what you do might affect someone else, you’re going to struggle with healthy relationships.

social emotional learning Competency E: Responsible Decision-Making  

The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions within the context of ethical standards, safety concerns and social norms. It involves making realistic evaluations of the consequences of your actions and a consideration of the well-being of self and others. There’s a reason the word responsible is included here. We make decisions on a daily basis, but whether they’re responsible or not is a different matter. We’ll refer back to a concept I’ve already mentioned previously. If you never consider how the decisions you make effect other people, you’re not likely to make responsible decisions.

Sure, there are many decisions we can make that have nothing to do with anyone except ourselves. When that’s the case, you’re free to make whatever choices you think serve you best. However, there are hundreds of decisions we must make daily that will have an impact on others whether we realize it or not. We need to become more intentional about looking for those opportunities to do no harm. Social and emotional learning skills and strategies are designed to help you here. If each of us were determined to take the path of peace in our decision-making, we would be so much closer to working well together as a society.

What are social emotional learning examples?

Social and emotional learning skills can look and sound like “I” statements. For example, I might say… “When you said that it, I felt attacked.” This lets you know that what you said hurt me without accusing you of intentionally trying to do harm. I am putting the ownership on me instead of on you. You did say it, but I was the one who experienced the negative emotion. Often, we say things that are bit more aggressive which then take the conversation in a less productive direction. If I had said… “You attacked me when you said that…” it could put you on the defensive and change the trajectory of the conversation. The statements sound similar, but the second is accusatory and the first is explanatory.

Example #2

Another example of using proper social and emotional learning is for me to tell you “no.” I cannot do that for you because my plate is already too full. I have reached my stress threshold and if I take on any more responsibility, I will not be able to continue to manage my emotions effectively. Now, I may or may not make you privy to this complete scenario. I may simply tell you “no” and leave it at that. I really don’t owe you an explanation because “no” is a complete sentence. However, I at least need to know within myself that I cannot handle anything else. Because of that, I don’t allow anyone to overload me. I manage my emotions by managing what I take on.

example #3

For our final example, remember that social and emotional learning is not just about you. The ability to say… “I wonder how my sister felt when I did that…” is a great skill to have. You most certainly want to get to a place where you can evaluate how what you might say and do could affect someone you love or you’re in any type of relationship with. It doesn’t mean that you only make decisions that have a purely positive effect on others. It simply means you at least take a moment to consider it.

How can teachers promote social emotional learning in the classroom?

Educators can promote social emotional learning in the classroom in several different ways. You can visit CASEL for some free tips and other resources on how to implement techniques into your classroom. I have also created a curriculum that educators and administrators can use in the classroom as well as groups outside the classroom. How much or how little you implement may depend on what your school system requires or recommends. If the resources are available to have a facilitator come into your school or your classroom, I would highly recommend allowing someone to be an adjunct provider for your SEL activities.

Get familiar with the core competencies that are laid out in this blog, so you know what things need to be implemented with your students. If you can integrate the SEL skills and strategies into your academic lessons smoothly, that would be amazing. Your students do not always have to be aware that you’re teaching social emotional learning. If it becomes a natural part of the school day, it could be seamlessly worked into your lesson plans. However, it can most certainly be something separate and intentional that you work into your day. Maybe not in each class, each day. But, certainly at least once per week so that it is consistent enough for your students to catch on and build from.

Consider teaming up with other teachers in your grade. Possibly teachers that each of your students have some sort of relationship with throughout the day or week. Teachers and coaches could work together so there is cohesiveness with academics and athletics. Educators want the students to improve their grades. Coaches want the students to improve on the court or the field. In most school systems these two areas need to work together because if grades aren’t up to par, there is no extracurricular activity. Working together could give your students the most well-rounded academic and social and emotional health they could have.

Final Thoughts On Social Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills and strategies must be taught. The school system is a great place to interact with them and the community is the best place to reiterate them. Educators and parents getting on the same page is imperative. Our teachers cannot do it all. And, the truth is, most parents could use a little help as well. If we can work together, we can all learn and excel. SEL is not just for children. It’s also for adults. If our communities begin to understand and cultivate social and emotional learning, our children will have no problems mastering it.

Final Thoughts On Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills and strategies must be taught. The school system is a great place to interact with them and the community is the best place to reiterate them. Educators and parents getting on the same page is imperative. Our teachers cannot do it all. And, the truth is, most parents could use a little help as well. If we can work together, we can all learn and excel. SEL is not just for children. It’s also for adults. If our communities begin to understand and cultivate social and emotional learning, our children will have no problems mastering it.


The Before You G.R.O.W. Up curriculum is a tool to help us learn the A through E’s of SEL. Let’s get proactive about this. If you’re ready to get started today, download your printable working ebook now! Click on any of the hyperlinks included in this blog to get started. You’ve already seen my welcome video and I also have videos for each module on my YouTube channel. To download a checklist of the breakdown of the competencies, you can access that here. If you would like to take an online course that is available to you as well. If you happen to be an educator, you might be eligible for 2 CPE hours for this course. For additional mental health resources check out Psychology Today. If you or someone you know is in crisis you can dial or text 988 at any time, nationwide.

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