Incorporating social emotional learning (SEL) into schools is becoming a major point of discussion in education. SEL is proven to help students create relationships, learn, and develop skills that are necessary for them to succeed later in life. Many people believe that SEL is a vital part of a student’s learning and that schools should include it in their curriculum. However, many schools are still not setting aside space for SEL in the school system. In order to understand the future of SEL in schools, it is important to know how school officials see SEL and why it is not being implemented in school curriculums.
Among teachers, there are 3 general categories that most fall into regarding their opinions about SEL. The first is a teacher who is supportive of incorporating SEL and believes that most of their school is also in support. The second type is a teacher who is personally supportive of SEL but believes that the majority of their school district does not share those views and does not feel a push to include it in their classroom. The third category involves a teacher who does not feel comfortable teaching SEL in the classroom but wants to do all that they can to improve the learning environment for students and acknowledges that social emotional skills are a valuable aspect of a student’s educational experience.
All three categories describe teachers who are generally supportive of SEL in the classroom. The main differences between the 3 were whether the teacher felt that their school supported them teaching SEL and whether they personally felt confident enough to teach social emotional skills.
The viewpoint on SEL among school principals was similar to teachers. A study for CASEL conducted in March 2017 revealed that, while the vast majority of principals are in support of teaching students social emotional skills, 83% of them do not know how they would incorporate that into their school.
Due to the confusion about how to teach social emotional skills, only one-third of principals have plans to include SEL learning in their school. There is widespread interest in incorporating SEL, but limited knowledge about how to effectively do it.
Other Factors for Incorporating SEL in Schools
One of the largest factors in whether schools are going to incorporate SEL is district leadership. Only 40% of principals reported that their district required all schools to have a plan for teaching social emotional skills. In order to be able to teach SEL, teachers need to be shown how to appropriately implement social emotional skills in their classroom. They also need certain resources. Teachers can only receive the knowledge and resources that SEL requires if they have district leadership actively focusing on how to best teach students social emotional skills.
The report for CASEL revealed that schools that have more people actively implementing SEL are more successful in helping the students develop social emotional skills. Principals and school
administrators, teachers, and counselors overwhelmingly engage in developing social emotional skills, but many other school officials are not as actively focusing on it, hindering the school’s ability to fully and successfully implement SEL into a student’s education.