Social Emotional Learning

Defining Social and Emotional Learning

In order to define social and emotional learning, five inter-related sets of cognitive and behavioral competencies must be considered.

  • Self-awareness: Research indicates that when students are working on goals they have created for themselves, they are more motivated and efficient.
  • Self-management: If a learner is taught how to focus on the three interdependent relationships of their environment, behavior and thinking, they will be able to manage themselves successfully in an efficient manner.
  • Social awareness: Students must be able to perceive their own emotions and stay aware of them as they continue to happen and develop.
  • Relationship skills: Starting from birth, students learn how to to establish emotional connections with others based on trust and intimacy. It is through these relationships that children discover who they are and learn to understand others.
  • Responsible decision making: Based on ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, and the well-being of others, students who understand this concept usually make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior.

Does the current education system foster these types of skills in the students of today? Moreover, do our schools provide encouraging environments for students? In Social Awareness + Emotional Skills = Successful Kids for the American Psychological Association, research showed interesting facts about current U.S. schools.

If a child is not emotionally prepared to learn, they are not going to learn. In the race for test results and state funding, educators have little time to focus on developing social and emotional skills for learners. An important question educators battle with is to either be destinations for students to go to in order to learn, or to be portals for students to pass through in their individual learning journeys. What are the implications if we choose the latter approach and foster social and emotional skills first and foremost in education?

Rachel DeWitt

Rachel DeWitt is the Global Brand Strategist for IBI Group and a lifelong learner. Former educator, Rachel holds an M.Ed. in educational psychology. She spent most of her graduate studies focusing on learning sciences, specifically on creativity, cognition, instruction, and development. Rachel currently resides in Denver, Colorado. Tweet her: @RachelNFloyd

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