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Teachers cite a lack of time and training as barriers to teaching SEL skills in the classroom and helping students build these competencies.

SEL is critical–but teachers rarely have time to address it

Majority of teachers cite a lack of time and training as barriers to teaching SEL skills in the classroom and helping students build these competencies

While teachers know their students need help developing social emotional skills, they rarely have time or adequate training to focus on them in the classroom, according to a new survey from ReadTheory, an edtech company that helps students build reading comprehension skills.

The survey of nearly 1,700 teachers offers insights into the challenges of implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs in today’s tumultuous educational environment.

In the wake of the disruption of the pandemic, U.S. students are struggling. In 2021, the Center for Disease Control revealed that 37 percent of high school students reported poor mental health during the pandemic, while 44 percent said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.

And with billions of dollars in federal ESSER funds available, schools are investing in SEL programs to help students–and teachers–cope. According to Simba Information, spending for SEL instructional materials was $1.725 billion for the 2021-2022 school year. 

While 63 percent of teachers responding to ReadTheory’s survey believe mental wellness throughout the pandemic adversely affected instruction, a third reported they rarely or never teach SEL skills. Lack of time in the school day and lack of support from school leadership are among the challenges teachers said they faced when attempting to implement SEL.

“What teachers told us provides a roadmap for the ways that school leaders, families and communities can help support social emotional learning for all students,” said Ron Kirschenbaum, managing partner, ReadTheory.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Eighty percent of teachers indicated that some, most, or all students need support with social emotional needs.
  • Nearly 60 percent of teachers said that the pandemic impacted their students’ motivation to learn.
  • Teachers’ mental wellness throughout the pandemic affected their performance. More than 60 percent told ReadTheory their mental wellness impacted instruction.
  • More than 50 percent of teachers said they had not received any SEL training.
  • The home-school connection is not happening when it comes to SEL. Nearly 50 percent of teachers said families do not have the resources to teach SEL at home.

This press release originally appeared online.

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