In my work with SEL in schools for nearly four decades, I have always said that I never have to "sell" SEL; I only have to "show" it. Once educators see it in action, and especially once they experience kids' reactions to SEL, they almost always understand its value and begin down the road to transforming their classrooms and/or schools.
But in many instances, this is not easy to accomplish. Most schools are not proximal to other schools implementing high-quality SEL. Also, most schools don't have local experts accessible who can come in to demonstrate lessons effectively.
With my colleagues at CASEL, we created a book, The Educator's Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement: Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom (Corwin Press), designed to give readers the "feel" of SEL in action. Each chapter in the main section of the book presents an evidence-based SEL curriculum from pre-K to high school.
Each chapter opens with a vignette designed to give the reader a "feel" for SEL lessons, followed by some "do now's" that educators could implement with little background or preparation -- all of which solidify "showing" it to them.
Videos Are A Step Forward
When we developed this guide, videos were not as plentiful as they are now. And so our strategy has changed. We now encourage educators -- and others new to SEL, such as students, other in-school or after-school program staff members, parents, and school board members -- to "see" SEL first via these videos and then try it out in their in-school or after-school settings.
Among a growing selection of excellent videos, we have shown the following as part of our initial orientation to SEL. We say a bit about what SEL is, how it is designed to complement what is happening in schools, and that it never constitutes an "add-on." SEL becomes part of the culture and climate of a school, and is an essential partner to traditional character development approaches, and that SEL skills are essential for academic and life success, in pre-K to grade 12 and higher education contexts and beyond.
Then, we show one of these videos and discuss what viewers notice, such as the empowering nature of the pedagogy, the emphasis on group learning, the approach to skill development, the connection to discipline policies, and, above all, the joy of SEL-infused classrooms:
Video 1: A School District's Initiative for Social and Emotional Learning Pays Off
Video 2: How To Teach Math as a Social Activity
Video 3: Educate the Heart
Video 4: Five Keys to Successful Social and Emotional Learning
Video 5: Smart Hearts: Social and Emotional Learning Overview
Share Your Thoughts
Each of these videos has distinctive strengths. They provide classroom teachers with a really great "look and feel" of SEL with students. Video #2 has been an invaluable tool for showing how SEL can be integrated into academic subject areas. See what you think, and post your reviews of the videos in the comments section below. Please share how you find them to be most useful.