Analysis: 5 Ways Adults Can Develop Children With Strong Social and Emotional Skills

By: Bridget Laird, WINGS CEO
Published by The 74. Read full commentary here >

I’m a math teacher, not a counselor. I’m here to teach math,” one teacher recently told a principal I was working with in an afterschool program. 

The principal recounted this story while reflecting on an effort to infuse more social-emotional learning into her school.

The concept of having to “add one more thing” to overburdened teachers is nothing new. To overcome this resistance, the education field must not view SEL as a separate curriculum but instead as what it is at its core: a set of skills, competencies, and principles that inform and guide how to interact with students. That is, rather than SEL being what educators teach, it is how they teach.

recent survey of nearly 900 principals, commissioned by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, found that 98 percent believe that social and emotional skills should be taught to all students. This reflects school leaders’ understanding of the importance of SEL as part of the foundation for students’ success in school and throughout their lives. It also reported that 60 percent of principals believe teachers lack the training necessary to support students’ SEL needs.