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. 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 …