Paulette Chaffee, California Educator, Answers the Question: What is Social-Emotional Learning?

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Heightened self-awareness, more profound empathy, and a better grasp of emotions and thoughts are just a few benefits students experience from social-emotional learning (SEL). Paulette Chaffee serves her community as an educator and children’s advocate.

She sees learning avenues like SEL as an opportunity to promote development in students of all ages inside and out of the classroom. Here, she dives deeper into what SEL is and the numerous ways it advances students forward in the classroom and adult world.

What is SEL?

SEL is the framework for developing interpersonal proficiencies such as self-control and self-awareness to understand emotions better and empathize with others. Essentially, SEL includes steps needed for growing and utilizing social and emotional abilities. Learners who develop social-emotional skills have better aptitudes for coping with daily difficulties.

CASEL surveys reveal that parents, students, teachers, and principals agree that SEL is more than just a learning opportunity. It is a vital attribute to incorporate in any educational environment. The results from SEL are positive and powerful, and hundreds of studies prove this to be true.

SEL is not a traditionally taught subject like science or social studies. Instead, it is most effective when integrated into a school’s curriculum. Weaving SEL into daily academic lessons is more of a relatable personal approach. When students can make more connections to what is being taught in their class, participation rates increase, creating a learning platform that students find intriguing.

Benefits of SEL in the Classroom

The process of SEL aids and improves learners’ abilities in the classroom in various ways. For example, in 2015, a study released in the School Psychology Quarterly evaluated SEL’s impact during early development on seven hundred and five “high risk” students.

All the participating students were from different schools that were a part of the same large urban school district deemed high risk. The study’s outcome showed how SEL when applied in a learning environment during early development, proved a “promising approach” to improving academic skills and performance in math, reading, and writing.

When SEL is adequately executed in schools, students’ self-regulation, empathy, problem-solving, and impulse control may improve. In addition to higher grades, bullying and other harmful social behaviors may be diminished by creating uplifting classroom environments.

Benefits of SEL Beyond the Classroom

Today’s young learners will be tomorrow’s strong leaders, and SEL helps instill this constructive cycle beyond the classroom and into the workforce. Business leaders emphasize that social-emotional skills play a critical role in success. SEL teaches crucial and highly sought-after skills, including collaboration, relationship-building, and assertiveness.

SEL also provides students long-lasting benefits that advance their quality of life as adults. The life skills learned through SEL include understanding diversity, respecting others’ perspectives, responsible decision-making, contributing to the community, and emotion management.

About Paulette Chaffee

Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education.

Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.

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