The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Eleanor Kennedy Blog, Special Ed

A student may know her 12 times tables, be perfect at reciting the alphabet of a second language, or have full knowledge of a river’s features, but one of the most important lessons a student can benefit from in the classroom is her social-emotional learning (SEL).

Social and emotional learning is the process of developing and using the skills, attitudes, and knowledge that help youth and adults to identify and regulate emotions. In turn, the knowledge gained from SEL could help young people to develop positive relationships and make responsible decisions. This message was presented recently at the annual MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium.

Research clearly shows that integrating SEL into school life is good for both students and teachers. In fact, it is estimated that SEL improves student achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, while also increasing prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improving student attitudes toward school, and reducing depression and stress among students.

Dr Ruha Benjamin

This is something that is key to many educators’ teaching, including Dr Ruha Benjamin of Princeton University. Dr Benjamin, who is  professor of African American studies and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier, delivered the key note at the 2017 MassCUE Fall Conference which was attended by the 30hands team.

She spoke passionately about the importance of social and emotional awareness among students, in particular with regard to people’s cultural backgrounds. One particular point Dr Benjamin regularly pushes is the idea that race is socially constructed while asking how we can all come together to combat this.

It’s a question that perhaps has many hypotheses, but it must be suggested that the answer lies in the classroom. Every school in the United States, and indeed, every school in the world, addresses the social-emotional and character development of the students who pass through its doors. It is impossible to bring adults and children together for long periods of time and not influence children’s skills and the kinds of people they will become when putting those skills to use.

So how do we implement social-emotional learning in schools?

According to CASEL, an organization which specifically works to advance SEL in education, its cornerstone is the delivery  of five essential skills and competencies to students. These are:

  1. self-awareness
  2. self-management
  3. social awareness
  4. relationship skills
  5. responsible decision making

At 30hands, we are all about the power of video. Through our video creation tools, students and teachers can take their social and emotional learning to the next level by sharing self-made videos with their peers.

Applying SEL in the Classroom

Let’s take a look at Dr Benjamin’s pain which revolves around a lack of racial awareness among young students. A student could delve into the history of African-American relations in the United States by creating an explanatory video to not only educate themselves, but their friends too.

A teacher can also dive into the world of simple video creation by informing their students of other social and emotional issues they may encounter. By doing this, students and teachers are not only becoming aware of their emotional well-being, but they are expressing themselves in creative and experimental ways.

The ease and ability of students and teachers to create effective videos with 30hands means they spend less time learning the technology and more time learning their class lessons. One of the most effective methods of teaching is having the students teach back what they learn, and with 30hands, this is easier than ever as we make learning fun again. 

Video creation has many real-world benefits, which is one of the reasons it aligns with ISTE’s standards for both students and teachers. It inspires learning creativity, empowers the learner, and allows them to construct knowledge (like through SEL).

Turn your students into teachers with 30hands and watch as their social and emotional awareness sores through video.

Check out our popular Digital Storytelling product for iPads, 30hands Storyteller Pro, and our new browser-based version for laptops and Chromebooks, 30hands Storyteller Web!

30hands CEO at the 2017 Fall MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.


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