What is social-emotional learning (SEL) and how does it relate to the arts?

After entering the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are seeing the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) in classrooms. Students are experiencing rapidly increasing signs of stress and trauma. The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified these issues due to increased isolation and delayed or missed milestones in student life. With the mental health crisis in our schools and society, the need for SEL becomes a priority.

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is a process that enables the development of interpersonal skills, the management of emotions, the establishment and maintenance of relationships, and the ability to make responsible and caring decisions in young people and adults alike.

Five social-emotional learning skills

According to Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)an organization dedicated to helping children and adults become self-aware, caring, responsible, engaged and lifelong learners, there are five social-emotional learning skills.

– Self-awareness. The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts and values ​​and how they influence behavior in all contexts. This includes the abilities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-founded sense of confidence and determination.

– Self management. The ability to effectively manage one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors in different situations and to achieve one’s goals and aspirations. This includes the abilities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel the motivation and agency to achieve personal and collective goals.

– Social consciousness. The abilities to understand and empathize with others’ points of view, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures and backgrounds. This includes the abilities to feel compassion for others, to understand broader historical and social norms of behavior in different contexts, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

– Social skills. The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and navigate environments with diverse individuals and groups effectively. This includes the abilities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to solve problems and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate contexts with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, demonstrate leadership and seek or offer assistance when needed.

– Responsible decision making. The abilities to make caring and constructive choices regarding personal behavior and social interactions in a variety of situations. This includes the abilities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to assess the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social and collective well-being.

How is social and emotional learning (SEL) related to arts integration?

The combination of SEL with the integration of the arts allows students to create projects that include their own perspectives and life experiences. The integration of the arts alone is known to foster a positive school atmosphere. This strengthens students’ relationships and communication skills with their teachers and peers and they make decisions through creative activities. It also allows students to develop self-awareness and learn to manage their emotions throughout the creative building process.

What are ways to integrate social and emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom?

– Have students write in journals every day.

– Host a class meeting once a day to uplift the class community.

– Create a separate calm zone in the classroom for students to sit down safely, explore their own coping strategies, and return to class when calm again.

– Encourage expression through art.

– Start your day with a daily greeting.

– Practice disagreeing respectfully.

– Give students individual responsibilities within the class.

– Talk about managing emotions.

– Discuss empathy.

– Practice active listening skills.

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