Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in the classroom has been an area of debate in the recent years. First off teachers are required to use every moment of the day in a way that is considered to improve their academic capabilities so there is no time left for little things like helping children to develop as social beings. In addition there is a great deal of controversy over what should be taught, what makes the person teaching it qualified, and how involved in the process parents should be. The main components of SEL are to teach the children self-awareness(self-understanding and the ability to express oneself appropriately), self-management (the ability to manage emotions once the child understands and can label them), social awareness (the understanding of what is socially appropriate in the situation), relationship skills (the ability to communicate effectively and resolve conflict), and responsible decision making (the ability to make positive choices in a systematic way).
Those of you that know me know that I was a teacher for many years. I loved my students and spent countless hours socializing them which at some point made me realize that I was probably in the wrong field and needed to change direction. I became a school counselor where I had more time to work on the social goals of children, but testing and packed schedules made it harder to achieve than I had hoped for. I did what I could as best as I could, but I never forgot how important it was to socialize my students and to make parents part of the process. When I had my own children I knew how important navigating emotions was to having healthy children who turn into healthy adults and how important it was for me to be involved in their social development. I loved and respected most of my children’s teachers but at the end of the day I wanted my children to know our families’ values, while learning about the many different ways to live in this world.
These days I do Social Emotional Learning Therapy with my clients. My original goal was to help children who have difficulty connecting the social dots to express themselves in this world in a way that they can be heard, feel heard, and manage their emotions as well as the social situations they are placed in. I realized more and more that SEL was not just for children and incorporated it into my therapeutic regime for adults struggling with socialization and self-awareness. But the more implemented it and taught the strategies the more I realized the importance of SEL training throughout the lifespan for all individuals. After all self-understanding and the ability to express ourselves appropriately is crucial personally, interpersonally, socially and professionally. Tools to manage our emotions and resolve conflict even when people are difficult is something that we all need reinforcement in throughout our lifetime. I don’t know how exactly I feel about the current implementation of SEL in the schools but I do know the technique works when used therapeutically with my clients. I’ve included some articles if you want to learn more about the origin of SEL, the possible pros and cons, the focus, and how it is implemented.