What is SEL?

According to CASEL, the leading organization for the research and advancement of social and emotional competencies, SEL can be defined as:

“the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.


Five Core Competencies

Every lesson in Empowering Education’s curriculum supports at least one of CASEL’s Five Core Competencies; taken as a whole our curriculum is a comprehensive foundation for all five competencies.

“CASEL has identified five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies. The definitions of the five competency clusters for students are:

  • 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.”(http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/core-competencies)

(from CASEL.org)

In simple terms: SEL educates the heart, while traditional academic learning educates the head. The 21st Century model of educating “the whole child,” then, is the process of bringing these two together. Our curriculum is designed to support both the social-emotional and academic growth of your students.

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Benefits of SEL

CASEL describes the benefits of SEL as follows:

Research shows that SEL can have a positive impact on school climate and promote a host of academic, social, and emotional benefits for students. Durlak, Weissberg et al.’s recent meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools indicates that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated:

  • better academic performance: achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive SEL instruction;
  • improved attitudes and behaviors: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behavior;
  • fewer negative behaviors: decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals; and
  • reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal.”(http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/outcomes/)

Beyond the direct emotional and academic benefits to your students, SEL is now accepted as a critical factor in economic outcomes on individual and societal levels. Traditionally, economic success and employability was strictly linked to increasing cognitive skills (intelligence) in education. Recent research in economics, psychology, neuroscience and education, however, all point to a more unified model of cognitive and non-cognitive skills. In other words, increasing social-emotional skills through effective SEL programming in schools will have a direct effect on graduates’ employability and earnings, as well as the overall economic strength of countries embracing policies that support effective SEL programming and reform.