While there are many definitions of SEL, SEL4NJ defines “SEL” as an umbrella term that includes social and emotional development, character education, positive youth development, whole child/whole school approaches, caring schools and communities, and efforts to create positive school climate and culture. SEL also includes efforts to promote mental and physical health and to prevent substance use and bullying. Promoting SEL includes building an essential set of life skills that includes self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, problem-solving/responsible decision-making and relationship skills. These skills are necessary in ensuring all students receive an appropriately challenging academic foundation in Reading, Writing, Math, the visual and performing arts, and other subject areas. Schools that embrace an institutional commitment to educational equity develop these values in all students including vulnerable populations.
SEL is referred to by this group as an overarching term used to describe the “3 C’s”: the conditions for cultivating social and emotional learning and individual well-being, the competencies or skills developed through SEL instruction; and the individual character traits developed through the identification of core values that guide adult and student behavior.
An extensive body of rigorous research (including randomized control trials, longitudinal follow-ups, and multiple replications) demonstrates that education that promotes SEL gets results, and that teachers in all academic areas can effectively teach SEL. Evidence demonstrates that social and emotional learning (SEL) improves mental health, social skills and behavior, academic achievement, and college and career readiness.