Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning


“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is making a difference for our students. We have happy learners – students who can focus on academics because they’re not sidetracked by a lot of other issues. Because of that, our test scores are higher and we have fewer office referrals.” – AK Elementary Principal


One of the areas that the School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) measures is social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL supports children, youth and adults in developing skills for life and school. SEL reaches beyond classrooms. The five SEL skill areas or competencies – self awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision – making – teach the skills we each need to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, developing positive relationships, solving everyday problems, and operating in the workplace.


AASB’s brochure, Social and Emotional Learning: a Guide for Alaskan School Districts describes the research which indicates that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated: better academic performance (11 percentile points higher on achievement scores); improved attitudes and behaviors (greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, and better classroom behavior); fewer negative behaviors (decreased disruptive class behavior, aggression, and delinquency); and, reduced emotional distress (including depression anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal). (Durlak, et al. (2011)


How are SEL skills taught and learned? A comprehensive approach involves intentional components to teach, practice, model, support, and embed these skills in an environment of respect in ways that are reflective of the community culture and context. Components of a Comprehensive Approach to SEL defines each component.


Seven school districts across Alaska – Bering Strait, Hydaburg, Kodiak Island Borough, Kuspuk, Lower Yukon, Nome, and Sitka – are partnering with AASB to explore SEL in their cultural contexts, creating Culturally Responsive Embedded Social and Emotional Learning (CRESEL). The districts are working with their communities to integrate culturally responsive SEL into district and schools supports as well as into partnerships with families, after school time and the community. CRESEL FAQ describes Department of Education i3 grant project.


“SEL builds community in my classroom. I’ve noticed more participation and enthusiasm for learning. SEL is important at my school because so many students are dealing with absent parents and unsettled home lives. School might be the only place where they feel connected and that needs to remain constant. “ – AK Kindergarten Teacher


“Math is often a scary subject for students—one that many have a history of not succeeding in. With SEL we’ve created a safe environment in which students are willing to try and persevere. I’ve seen my students become brave learners who actually want to come to school and who strive towards academic achievement. “ – AK High School Teacher