Applied Psychology

How Social and Emotional Learning can Transform Classrooms

Dec 03, 2020
How Social and Emotional Learning can Transform Classrooms

What is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social-Emotional learning is the process of developing, and then using, a skill set that better enables you to cope with and understand feelings, make decisions, get along with others, empathise and set goals. These skills are inter-transferable between personal, school, work and social spheres. People with a good social and emotional skill set are able to build positive relationships with those around them. And additionally, generally manage life’s challenges well.

“Social and Emotional Learning develops essential life skills.”

The 5 competencies of SEL are:

  1. Self-Awareness,
  2. Self-Management,
  3. Social Awareness,
  4. Relationship Skills
  5. Responsible Decision-making

Through programmes that encourage daily commitment and practice, children and adults become socially and emotionally competent. They are able to face life’s challenges with more optimism, tenacity and resilience, experiencing improved well-being and success. Essentially, self-awareness, self-management and social awareness form the bedrock of social and emotional learning that empowers a person to understand and regulate themselves appropriately and engage and collaborate effectively with others.

How Social and Emotional Learning can help Teachers and Learners

Many challenges plague the South African schooling system. The ability for teachers to manage overcrowded classrooms with a lack of resources is a continual problem.

Often a classroom environment is not conductive to easy or good learning. Persistent misbehaviour by learners distracts other learners and causes stress and anxiety for teachers. This can lead to teachers becoming demotivated and burnt out.

South African learners deserve an education that develops both academic and social and emotional competence to build the resilience that the youth of today need to thrive and develop when faced with our current and future life challenges.

Social and emotional learning is an innovative intervention approach. Which allows South African learners an education that develops both academic, social and emotional competence. Equipping teachers with the tools to build strong and trusting, bi-directional relationships via a SEL approach, ultimately changes the relational dynamics between teachers, learners and peers. Thus transforming classrooms into positive learning environments where learners feel safe to explore and try out new behaviours. This process also enables children and adults to apply a set of skills or competencies to navigate through life. Ensuring success initially in school, later in the workplace, and ultimately, as constructive and responsible members of society.

“Social and Emotional Learning can help create a better learning environment.”

The advantages of competency-based, well-implemented social and emotional learning are evident in research supporting social and emotional development, according to Melanie Godfrey and Kirsten McCleod, Co-founders and Directors of Foundations for Life. Increasingly this research shows that targeted social and emotional learning interventions in schools are transformational. Having both short- and long-term benefits that positively impact lives such that the effect ripples from learners and teachers in their classrooms, through the school community, into families and ultimately workplaces.

3 Positive Classroom Outcomes of SEL:

  1. Quality teacher classroom management,
  2. Improved academic achievement
  3. Strengthened relationships in classrooms

Overall, the result of SEL is better student behaviour and emotional health as well as increased commitment to learning and school by both learners and teachers. Furthermore, Godfrey elaborates that, “Studies of young people who have developed social and emotional competencies at school show that they experience long-term positive outcomes at tertiary level including improved high school graduation, better college and career readiness, healthy relationships and good mental health. There’s less likelihood of criminal behaviour and more inclination to be engaged citizens.”

The 5 Benefits of SEL

  1. Improved behaviour
  2. Cultivating of empathy and compassion
  3. Strengthened ability to establishing and maintain positive relationships
  4. Increased self-confidence
  5. Better decision making and goal keeping

By developing the capacity to manage emotions and regulate themselves, children and adults at school can make better, healthier choices in the midst of stressful situations. Improving social skills in the classroom such as learning to resolve conflicts, actively listen and how to find value in diversity can reduce disruptive or socially inappropriate behaviours; and decrease the levels of stress and anxiety so that academic learning can improve.

“The benefits of Social and Emotional Learning can be seen at individual, family and community levels.”

Are you interested in learning more about how these skillsets can be used to assist learners? SACAP offers a range of coaching courses, including the two-year Post Graduate Diploma in Coaching, and the five-month Coach Practitioner Programme. To find out more, enquire now.

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