SEL Tools That Promote Academic and Emotional Growth

Nina Sclafani
Senior Event Coordinator
News on October 13 2020

Education is more complex than ever before. From hybrid classrooms, to juggling technologies, to aiming curriculum towards unpredictable job markets, teachers and students have a lot on their plate.

Sadly, this influx in stressors has had an impact on our students’ wellbeing.

According to one study, “nearly one in three adolescents (ages 13-18) now meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder,” and from another, “32% of teens reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.”

But resilient educators are fighting back with a practice that supports students and helps provide a feeling of safety and security for them. This practice is called Social and Emotional Learning (or SEL for short) and is becoming a lifeline for students and teachers alike.

What is social and emotional learning (SEL)?

SEL is the process through which children:

  • Learn and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions
  • Set and achieve positive goals
  • Feel and show compassion for others
  • Create and keep positive relationships
  • Make responsible decisions

Through SEL, students practice critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration—and this practice can yield wildly positive results.

Reports show that students who receive a steady diet of SEL felt the long-term positive impact of the education practice for up to 18 years. These studies also show that, because of the skills learned through SEL, students could even experience a reduced rate of poverty and increased economic mobility.

But how is that possible? As discussed in SEL Tools for Active Learning (an online seminar delivered by Teq’s VP of Global Instruction, Chrissy Rebert during Teq’s Virtual Summit), “The occupations that are continuing to grow not only need the cognitive skills for growth but also the social skills learned via SEL such as cooperation, empathy and flexibility.”

A benefit for educators

Students aren’t the only ones who feel the benefits of this practice. By integrating SEL into the curriculum, teachers reported the following:

  • Better classroom management
  • Improved or deepened relationships and understanding with students
  • A stronger sense of community

But like all other classroom practices, teachers cannot simply implement this without having the support and resources to do so.

Where do we begin?

For educators new to SEL, they should look to CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. Founded in 1994, this collective of highly trained educators and researchers created the standard for SEL as we know it today.

Together, CASEL created a framework that identifies the five core competencies of SEL:

1. Social awareness
2. Relationship skills
3. Responsible decision-making
4. Self-awareness
5. Self-management

These competencies are “designed to be an additive model” to education, rather than a replacement for the skills they learn in a traditional education setting. But how can we blend these skills into our already built curriculum without feeling like we have to reinvent the wheel?

Using SMART Learning Suite Online to support SEL

For those new to SEL, incorporating the competencies into your curriculum may feel overwhelming, however there are widely used solutions available to help. One such solution is the SMART Learning Suite.

In “SEL Tools for Active Learning,” Chrissy Rebert provides detailed examples of how SLSO allows students to practice strengthening their SEL competencies. With SLSO, teachers can provide students with a platform that allows for:

  • Voice and choice
  • Collaborative learning/cooperative learning
  • Communication with teacher
  • Small group discussion
  • Large group sharing
  • Community
  • Relationship-building

To view the session and see this supportive SEL tool in action, you can watch it below.

For more SEL and SLSO tools and tips

To learn SMART Learning Suite and how you can bring this solution into your classroom, email our team at or call 877.455.9369. If you already have SLS in your classroom, check out the resources below to learn how you can incorporate SEL into your instruction.