SEL training tips for teachers


Social-emotional skills — just one more thing to cram into the school day?

With all that teachers have to do, some may look at it that way. But studies show that schools with social emotional learning (SEL) programs have higher test scores, fewer trips to the principal’s office, and more engagement in class. And it may be that SEL is more about how teaching is done than what is taught.

CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, lists five core competencies for SEL. These are:

  • self-awareness: recognizing one’s own feelings, interests, strengths, and limitations
  • self-management and emotion regulation: regulating emotions and managing daily stressors
  • social awareness: taking perspective of others and appreciating similarities and differences
  • relationship and social skills: exhibiting prosocial behavior and demonstrating positive social skills in order to develop meaningful relationships
  • responsible decision-making: making ethical decisions and strengthening the ability to develop appropriate solutions to identified problems.

Edutopia,org is an excellent source of SEL tips for teachers, with articles and short videos presenting classroom practices. Examples of titles are “Building Community With Attendance Questions,” and “Wellbeing: Developing Empathy, Emotional Awareness, and Agency.” offers a free downloadable pamphlet entitled “The Teacher’s Guide to ADHD Social Skills.” It provides some tips for helping children make friends, as well as for dealing with social immaturity and bullying.

And the article “21 Simple Ways to Integrate Social-Emotional Learning Throughout the Day”. on, by elementary teacher Elizabeth Mulvahill, is well worth a read. Suggestions include:

  • teach how to work in groups (and put up a poster as a reminder): talk to each other, listen to each other, compliment each other, ask each other questions
  • create a kindness bucket to hold messages of appreciation and love written by the kids
  • teach phrases which encourage self-examination and grit, using the free poster “8 Phrases That Nurture Growth Mindset”
  • allow talk time between students so they can build relationships
  • play classroom games to encourage a feeling of community

For more SEL information and resources, see the CASEL website at


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