Urban Collaborative Attendees: What is SEL in Practice?

If you’ve been in the education space for long, you’ve probably heard the term SEL. Most teaching professionals can even define it: social and emotional learning.

But based on what we learned recently at the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative conference, that may be where universal agreement on SEL ends.

Education Lifeskills President Trevor Lloyd attended the event alongside ONEder, one of our newest eLearning partners. He got some insight into the definition of SEL while participating in one of the conference’s many excellent breakout sessions.

Academic Definitions of SEL

For some, SEL is a pedagogy that focuses on the study and application of emotional intelligence (EI). SEL can also be defined as skills related to emotions, goal setting, empathy, relationships and decision-making.

As recently as 2015, a group of researchers from the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis at Washington University put an emphasis on awareness. They defined “SE skills” as those relating to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Even if we all agreed on a definition of SEL, what does that mean in the classroom day to day? Is that different from what it means in curriculum planning, school board meetings or budget allocation discussions?

Our Approach: SEL+CLS

Every school is different, and so is every student, every teacher and every district. There are no definitive answers. However, our 40+ years of boots-on-the-ground SEL experience have brought us to one simple focus: challenging thinking errors, and doing it in a way that doesn’t provoke resistance.

We call it SEL+CLS, or social and emotional learning PLUS cognitive life skills. Check out our courses to find out more about the Education Lifeskills methodology.

Have Opinions on SEL? Join our Education Focus Group!

We are passionate about helping students make improvements in their thinking and behavior, and we are confident that top-notch SEL can make our students’ lives happier and more successful.

But we can’t do it alone. That’s where our new focus group comes in, and we’re actively recruiting a panel of the most highly qualified SEL educators in the country.

If you’re accepted as a member of this focus group, we will ask you to demo our cognitive and behavioral life skills curriculum and our corresponding Lifeskills Link platform. We’ll just ask that you follow up with a survey. In return, we are happy to provide your school with 3 free courses at a value of $65 per course.

Why so much focus on  SEL?

While there were many discussions about what SEL is at the Urban Collaborative conference, there were many more about how important it is. We were honored to hear from the Antoine Hickman, the Urban Collective Executive Director and also the head of Exceptional Student Learning Support for Broward County in Florida. In light of the recent school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, which is in his district, his comments about the importance of SEL in preventing school violence were particularly impactful.

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LeDerick Home meets with Antoine Hickman during the Urban Collaborative Conference.

We also heard from incredible educators working in Chicago, and talked with heads of special education from school districts all over the country. We were encouraged to hear about how helpful SEL can be in addressing problems ranging from the school-to-prison pipeline to dropouts, truancy, bullying and more.

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