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What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and why is it important?

Social Emotional Learning Defined

There are several different definitions of SEL floating around, but this is by far my favorite.

StartFragment“The process through which people learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors.” Elias, 2007EndFragment

Students need to learn how to successfully and respectfully deal with their emotions. At Inspire we expect all students to create, to innovate, and to be individuals. This demands an environment where students feel safe and empowered to express themselves without fear of being ridiculed.

Our culture supports students as they learn to be risk takers in their learning. That is why we are dedicated to teaching social emotional learning.

If we expect our students to be risk takers then we have to give them the tools to deal with their emotions as they navigate that process. It isn't easy dealing with situations that arrive from being a risk taker and therefore, we have decided to implement a SEL program at our school. SEL at Inspire is not just a lesson once a week, it is embedded in everything we do. We teach it explicitly through group work, we include families and the community, and we discuss SEL as situations arise during the course of the school day.

Five Core Competencies



Social awareness

Relationship skills

Responsible decision-making

These 5 core competencies will help create an environment of mutual respect and trust so that students feel like part of a collaborative community of learners.