Mandy Kloppers

The Principles that Guide Social and Emotional Learning

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning or CASEL, social emotional learning is defined as a process by which an individual, young or old can successfully employ acquired knowledge, attitudes and skills that are required to 

  • Identify and properly respond to emotions from either himself/herself or those around him/her 
  • Understand what makes a goal positive and how to achieve them 
  • Learn empathy, its purpose, and how important it is as a basic human trait in a society 
  • Build relationships such as with friends, co-workers, families and the community 
  • Maintain the built relationship through empathy 
  • Improve decision making process by adding in social and emotional factors 

The educators have traditionally been assigned the role of taking care of the emotional well-being of their students and helping them acquire social skills. With more and more schools implementing a social and emotional learning curriculum, a stronger focus has shifted towards the improving these traits. Recent studies have concluded that social and emotional learning is integral in developing a student to prepare him/her for a life beyond high school. They found out that students who are enrolled in a social and emotional learning curriculum have excelled in academics and have noticeably improved their demeanor. Social and emotional learning have ensured that the schools will be able to train students in all respects and thus produce a whole child. 

It is no secret that schools may be avert to implementing a social and emotional learning curriculum especially if they have established their own standard for learning. There are however plenty of reasons to integrate social emotional learning into schools and some of these are: 

  • Improving school climate – Social and emotional learning can spark a culture that begins in the classroom. The trend suggests that a lot more rigorous training courses are being introduced to young minds in school. They may still be unaware of some of the most basic emotional skills which are required to cope with the pressure that this presents. Social emotional learning can, not only boost, but track the progress of the school climate. 
  • Integrate social and emotional learning into homework – The lessons learned by the students from the curriculum are applicable to almost every facet of societal interactions and this includes their dealings with family at home. Basic skills like making sure that they can communicate well with their siblings or their parents can help further develop the skills that the curriculum intends to develop.The homework which is an integral part of learning for almost all classes are revamped to organically learn social and emotional skills. For instance, asking the student to do a project that requires them to talk to people in the community by interviewing them. These kinds of homeworks makes learning fun should tend to keep students interested. 
  • Partner with organizations – The social emotional learning community is a growing institution headed by CASEL. As society is a vital part of the curriculum, it is important to build relationships with other entities pursuing the same endeavor. Learning together is one of the themes that make social emotional learning what it is. 

To gain the momentum needed for a change that will lead to SEL implementation in any school will be extremely difficult. While the reluctance of schools themselves to shift the focus might be a big factor, the teachers will have to be retrained to ensure a flawless integration. 


Creating an environment to allow the teachings of the curriculum to grow within the students and allow a transformation in school in one of the principles of social and emotional learning. Students and teachers should be able to consciously nurture and care for everyone including themselves. And most importantly, they should be safe from judgement to be able to confidently convey their feelings. 

A sample strategy to abide by this principle is to provide multiple ways for students to communicate with each other either by one student reporting to the entire class or group work where each one will be learning and sharing with each other.  


Social emotional learning is not intended to be a replacement of the existing curriculum of schools. Instead, it should complement what already works for the classrooms and fully integrate to what is already working. The technical aspects of learning especially should not deteriorate to make room for social emotional learning. This can be done by championing social emotional learning as a philosophy to abide by rather than a manual that should be strictly followed. 

To enable social emotional learning without compromising the quality of learning, creative ways can be thought up to mix routine school work with twists that will introduce social emotional learning ideas 


The main thing in social emotional learning is to allow everyone to freely speak their mind. There are many reasons why traditional teaching may hold back a student from completely divulging all the ideas that he/she may have. One of these is the rigid structure by which students are expected to communicate their views. There is a reason why social emotional learning produces students that can easily blend in with any crowd as they have been exposed to many kinds of people in school who share their thoughts out loud. 


Social emotional learning has a special set of instructions that are to be conveyed by educators to their students. These are clear step by step guides that will help students get up to speed with how social emotional learning blends in with normal school work. The goal should be to ensure that the students fully understand and, in the future, appreciate the value that social emotional learning brings them. 


The main objective of social emotional learning curriculum is to produce whole students upon their graduation. This means that they not only have technical skills needed to perform their tasks but as well as the knowhow on how to navigate through all the people that they will meet in their lives.

Mandy X

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash