Teaching About SEL


Social and emotional learning (SEL) is “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (CASEL). There are five core competencies of social and emotional learning, which include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Studies show that by being exposed to SEL, students will maintain positive attitudes, have improved test scores, and experience decreased emotional stress. By teaching students about social and emotional learning, educators will be setting them up for future success.


There are many resources available online for teaching your students about social and emotional learning. SEL is even more important in difficult times, so it may be useful to use some of these resources below for your class and on your own time!

Lesson Plans

  1. Academy 4SC: Find videos related to social and emotional learning at Academy 4SC, like Prisoner’s Dilemma: It’s You or Me, The Non-Identity Problem: Should You Change the Future?, and Bandwagon Effect: Hop On!, among others. Teachers have access to resources like worksheets, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more included in each topic’s lesson plan. Explore Academy 4SC’s full library of applicable content under the tag SEL.
  2. Leaders 4SC Forces: Leaders 4SC provide a variety of Task Forces that provoke students to think critically about key issues as they roleplay as decision-makers and brainstorm well-detailed solutions. Each Task Force comes with step-by-step instructions, Google slide templates to be used with virtual breakout rooms, and topic-specific questions to get students started. The activities can be completed either individually or as part of a group. A fun Task Force is School Board on Violence.
  3. Social and Emotional Learning: edutopia provides an abundance of resources which can be used for “creating a healthy school culture by helping students develop skills to manage their emotions, resolve conflicts, and make responsible decisions.” Educators will have access to materials which were designed specifically to help them support students’ well-beings during the covid-19 pandemic and general resources that will come in handy when schools open up.
  4. Grades 6-8: Social-Emotional Skills: Scholastic offers five different lessons: Attitude Latitudes, Brain Freezers, Setting Boundaries, What Sets You Off?, Resolving Conflicts. Through these lessons, students will learn how attitudes change from situation to situation, the difference between “fast thinking” and “slow thinking,” how boundaries pertain to relationships, what sets them off, and how to resolve conflicts using various communication styles.


  1. Does Social And Emotional Learning Belong In The Classroom?: Forbes has published an article which discusses why social and emotional learning belongs in the classroom. The author contemplates why we want to teach social and emotional learning, what we want to teach, how we will teach it, and how we will assess it. Ultimately, there is no question that SEL is important and belongs in the classroom. Now, we just need to figure out a way to turn it into  a “structured, formal, assessed element of education!” This article offers a lot of insight into the importance of social and emotional learning in the classroom, so take a look!
  2. Social-Emotional Learning- A New Dimension of Education: U.S. News provides an explanation as to why social-emotional learning is even more important than other subjects, including math and English. Kang lays out the five competencies which make up SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. In addition, he discusses how students who are exposed to social-emotional learning benefit from it.

Informational Sites

  1. What is SEL?: CASEL offers readers key information on social and emotional learning, including its definition, its five core competencies, how a systemic approach can benefit students, and how educators can create welcoming learning environments for children. Additionally, educators can access resources during covid-19, as SEL offers people a way to support each other during difficult times.
  2. Social-Emotional Learning – Why It Matters and How to Foster It: EdSurge provides articles on integrating social and emotional learning into the classroom, information on where school climates and social-emotional development intersect, a chart depicting the five core competencies of SEL, and a bar graph depicting teachers’ overall views on social and emotional learning in schools.
  3. The Importance of Social Emotional Learning For All Students Across All Grades: nea provides a backgrounder on the importance of social emotional learning for students across all grades. This resource offers information on the outcomes associated with the five core competencies, multi-tier systems of support (MTSS), and powerful evidence which supports the impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning.


Teaching students about social and emotional learning is an important task because SEL plays a significant role in students’ success. Utilize the resources above to teach your students everything they need to know about SEL and try some of these activities in your classroom! For educators who want to learn specifically about how to teach with SEL awareness, check out the classroom practices page on the topic!

Additional Resources

  1. How Teachers Can Build Social-Emotional Learning Skills: Education Week provides educators with a presentation to help them build social-emotional learning skills. This presentation goes over basic information about SEL and gives educators tips on how to integrate SEL into the classroom. Educators will learn ten teaching practices, including classroom discussions and self-reflections, that promote social-emotional learning.
  2. Social Emotional Learning: BrainPOP supports social-emotional learning and therefore offers students CASEL-aligned movies and SEL-themed collections. Students will be able to watch movies on topics related to self-awareness and self-management, social awareness and relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The SEL-themed collections contain movies, learning games, and creative activities on emotions, empathy and respect, courage and perseverance, communication and teamwork, mental health, conflict resolution, relationships, and setting goals.
  3. Social-Emotional Learning Should Be Priority During COVID-19 Crisis: neaToday has published an article on how social-emotional learning should be a priority during the covid-19 crisis. The author, Tim Walker, describes the importance of SEL to students while they are experiencing emotional trauma and its role in community, connections, and relationships. In addition, he explains how educators also need to focus on their own self-care because we are all facing ups and downs every day.