How should we define SEL in schools?

A quick look at social-emotional learning frameworks and how they fit into the classroom

We are often asked for the definition of social-emotional learning (SEL). One common and useful SEL definition is the process of learning to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving in order to become aware of the self and of others, make responsible decisions, and manage behaviors.

2 SEL models

There are two SEL models or frameworks emerging as the consensus view.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) developed an SEL model that promotes the inter-relationships between classrooms, schools, families, and communities.

A description of SEL

2. iSELF
The Integrated Self Model (iSelf) is an SEL model to teach understanding of the inner self and how the inner self interacts with others through cognitive and positive psychology attributes.

This figure depicts the four dimensions of the Integrated Self Model (iSelf) with positive psychology and cognitive psychology attributions. This model was first made available to practitioners and researchers in The Self in Schooling: How to Create Happy, Healthy, Flourishing Children in the 21st Century  (2013).

iSELF helps SEL dive deeper into imparting emotional and psychological attributes to children through schooling and family activities in order to impact mental health and well-being. The iSelf model takes a research- and evidence-based approach to teaching young people how to know themselves and to change their brains from experiencing mental illness to mental health, with a new vision of self, others, and all.

Related: 11 tips on creating a positive school climate

Dr. Frederick Brown, Penn State emeritus professor of the psychology of well-being, wrote, “[The] iSelf model emerges from the interaction of current scientific information about the direct influence by emotions, both positive and negative, upon cognitive functioning. These emotions, in turn, are based upon personal relevancy and meaningfulness and are the controlling switch by which effective learning takes place or not. A positive emotional approach facilitates a sense of well-being that, in turn, enhances a willingness to learn.”

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