Advances in many fields—including neuroscience and psychology—have moved the work in social emotional learning (SEL) forward over the last fifteen years. We know that early experiences shape a child’s developing neurological and biological systems for better or worse, and that the types of stressful experiences that are common in families living in poverty can alter children’s neurobiology in ways that undermine their ability to succeed in school and in life (Thompson, 2014).
The learning and life benefits of social and emotional learning (SEL) are well-established (see CASEL research for a few of the most recent SEL research studies). In schools, classroom teachers have opportunities to build SEL competencies and skills — especially in the areas of collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork. Here are some ideas from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) SEL Fellows for classroom teachers interested in creating classroom environments that support relationship skills with peers.