What is SEL?

Defining SEL

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for diverse others, establish and maintain a range of supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

For all students to benefit, school and SEL efforts must be implemented equitably and intentionally advance equity; promote antiracism; elevate students’ cultural assets, voice, participation, and agency; and foster belonging for all individuals and groups. We recognize the pervasive influence of historical, systemic, and unconscious racism throughout our society. We also believe that SEL skills, such as emotional empathy and perspective-taking, can be learned in ways that foster the courage to name and interrupt corrosive systemic and individual racial bias. Adults need these skills as much as our youth. 

When we refer to SEL, we are including systematic efforts to promote any or all of the following areas: social and emotional development, 21st century skills, workforce and employer development, mindfulness, growth mindset, Universal by Design multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), whole human development, positive youth development, restorative justice, positive climate and culture, and caring schools and communities based on equity and inclusion.

For more information visit What is SEL? at CASEL.

SEL Impact

An extensive body of rigorous research (including randomized control trials, longitudinal follow-ups, and multiple replications) demonstrates that education that promotes SEL gets results, and that teachers in all academic areas can effectively teach SEL. Evidence demonstrates that social and emotional learning (SEL) improves mental health, social skills and behavior, academic achievement, and college and career readiness.

Educators Value SEL

Teachers are calling for schools to prioritize integrating SEL learning practices and strategies.

Principals Value SEL

Principals say SEL is essential, but want more guidance, training and support to teach these skills effectively.

SEL Investments Yield Returns

On average, for every $1 invested in SEL programming, there is a return of $11.

For more information visit SEL Impact at CASEL.