About Social-Emotional Learning

This image highlights the core components of my approach toward whole child education.

SEL is not the solution!

As I continue to research and further develop my philosophy and framework, it continues to be shown that SEL does not provide a strong enough explanation for academic discrepancies between students or classes. It seems that SEL is a larger indicator for the quality of classroom management and, to a lesser extent, the self, social, and societal awareness related to my secondary concept, Self-Directed Learning. While SEL does influence concerns related to Human Development such as goal-setting, self-reflection, and self-efficacy, specific academic struggles and academic discrepancies seem to have more to do with the connection between academic and human development more than the connection between academic and social-emotional learning. The decision-making process related to cognitive and psychosocial development of students (and the connection this has with the development of executive functioning) is more likely the greater attributing cause of academic gaps in learning.

To address this issue, I use my framework to identify the overlap between SEL and Academic development to create a Self-Directed Learning environment in my classroom. This allows the majority of students to learn at their own pace within the range of grade-specific academic expectations in my assigned grade level. These students receive general instruction on academic and social-emotional topics that they learn to internalize as part of my “learn how to learn” approach to classroom instruction. This allows me to focus more specifically on the students with the largest academic gaps and looking at cognitive and psychosocial aspects to provide the intervention and guidance appropriate for those students. The percentage of students struggling with executive functioning aspects of their development will need an approach specific to their needs that supports productive adjustments in their daily routines, provides guidance in developing relationships with their peers, and ensures ample and productive exercise and play. For these students that fall within the secondary concept of Academic Intervention, connecting Academic and Human Development (noting the influence of Social-Emotional Learning), intentional interventions can be put into place that focus on what each student needs most to improve.