Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process by which students learn various social and emotional skills. While there are many ways to incorporate SEL in the classroom, the methodology has yet to gain traction in the Philippines. Still, teachers can and do incorporate this kind of teaching in their classrooms even without a term to call it by.
But what is the importance of social-emotional learning? Why is it something that should be taught in schools? How can students benefit from this kind of teaching at present and in the future?
This article aims to answer those questions, but first, let’s take a deeper look at the fundamentals of this style of learning.
The core competencies of SEL are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and making responsible decisions. Just by hearing these words, you know that they are all key concepts that students need to develop as they grow older.
From the affirmation of self-awareness and the discipline of self-management to the interpersonal skills involved in social awareness and forming relationships, each of these will contribute to help develop impressionable students into model citizens of society.
Self-awareness focuses on recognizing your own emotions, realizing how they impact your behavior, and knowing your motives, passions, strengths, and weaknesses. As students learn to be self-aware, they become more confident in their abilities and have the tools necessary for decision-making.
This is an ideal skill for students who need help overcoming the fear of failure. Believing in their skills and knowing themselves well fuels their self-worth, reminding them that their failings do not define them.
Self-management is all about taking control of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior as well as setting goals and working toward them. It involves having the grit to manage yourself, especially during challenging times.
It also involves being able to set schedules and organize your time, such that you can achieve what you set out to do. Staying motivated during exam season, for example, takes a lot of discipline and time management, and it’s necessary for students of all levels.
Social awareness is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and empathize with them even if they are of a different culture or background. Exposure and adjustment to new cultures in an international school like Reedley is a start, but another benefit of social awareness for students is that it keeps them aware of other people’s rights and needs.
Once they are rooted in the real-life problems and concerns of the world, they become helpful children and compassionate adults, striving to improve the lives of others and contribute to the betterment of all.
Building and maintaining healthy relationships is a skill in itself—it takes trial and error, some people can be better at it than others, and like all skills, it can be improved over time. It involves being able to listen, effectively communicate, peacefully resolve conflicts, and make and keep friends.
Students who develop this skill have no need to bully, unnecessarily compete with, or antagonize others because they are confident in themselves and have a healthy amount of trust and positivity.
Finally, the skills mentioned above will all come together to develop the fifth SEL core competency: making responsible decisions.
Students who are in transitionary periods of their lives, like grade schoolers preparing for high school or seniors readying themselves for college, need to be able to make responsible decisions because many of these will affect their immediate to distant future.
They will need the awareness and self-worth to guide them through their decision-making, the discipline to carry out the decision, the social awareness to keep them grounded in reality, and the relationship skills to remind them that help is always at hand when they need it.
The importance of social-emotional learning is not only due to its many benefits but because the absence of these competencies may have drastic consequences. Students who lack these values may feel insecure, form unhealthy relationships, or doubt their decision-making. Additionally, these bad habits may fester and worsen long after they are out of school.
As a teacher or a parent, part of your responsibility is to nurture values in your students or children even outside the classroom. So don’t neglect social-emotional learning, and watch your child bloom.