Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

  • What is social and emotional learning (SEL)?

    The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the leading source of information, research, and guidance about SEL in schools. CASEL defines SEL as “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.”

    • Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.
    • Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
    • Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.
    • Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
    • Responsible decision-making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.


    Why is SEL important during our virtual school year?

    Social and emotional learning may be even more important now than ever before – precisely because we are physically closed and students have such limited social interaction. As CASEL’s president noted in a recent letter to the SEL community: “Like most Americans and people around the globe, I’ve been in seclusion and limiting my physical interaction with others. I do not consider this “social distancing.” In this time of crisis, we need physical distancing, of course. But that doesn’t mean we must be islands unto ourselves. When physical distancing is deemed necessary, social and emotional connectedness is even more critical.”

    How will RPS be approaching SEL during our virtual semester (and beyond)?

    At the elementary and middle school levels, RPS will be using Second Step, an evidence-based SEL program that has been found to produce “gains in empathy, impulse control, anger management, self-reliance, positive approach-coping, caring-cooperative behavior, suppression of anger, consideration of others, and social competence” according to a 2017 Harvard Graduate School of Education study. Second Step lessons will occur during the daily morning Community Circles that we have built into all K-8 schedules for our virtual semester. See below for one example of Second Step lesson.

    Lesson 11 Introducing Emotion Management  

    At the high school level, students will participate in a morning Community Circle centered on the five core SEL competencies articulated above.