S-E-L in the C-L-A-S-S

You’ve heard of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), but are you clear on exactly what it is and how to incorporate it into the classroom?

Here are the basics of SEL and (drum roll please…) FIVE quick and easy ways to bring SEL into the classroom.

What is SEL?

Social Emotional Learning – the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

SEL is further broken down into five core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Now let’s take it into the classroom.


Self-awareness is students being able to recognize their own emotions and thoughts and be aware of how those things are influencing their behavior.


Give students a small portion of time daily/weekly to write in a personal journal. This practice of writing their thoughts and feelings encourages them to be more aware of their emotions and how they are affecting their lives.


This is the student’s ability to regulate emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations.


Give students a block of time for goal setting or self-reflection. For example, you can have students fill out a section of their journals every day that has them reflect on a scale of 1-5 how they felt they did/performed that day.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is understanding the perspectives of others and being able to empathize, leading one to be respectful of others.


Pair students at random to encourage them to work with other students they may not have socialized with. Another fun exercise is to have each student create an exhibit on any topic they want and host a gallery where their peers can walk around and explore exhibits. Students will pick something they love and are passionate about while learning about their classmates.

Relationship Skills

Students need to be able to: listen well, cooperate with others, communicate clearly, and resist peer pressure. 


Role-play! Split students into groups of two. Give the pair a scenario and each person in the pair a different goal (can be as simple as what restaurant to eat lunch at). Have the students work through the situation and come up with an end decision. Now ask them to present how and why they came to that decision.

Responsible Decision Making

This means students are able to make constructive choices about their behavior and social interactions based on ethics, safety, and social norms. Furthermore, it means a student considers all aspects of their potential decision and its consequences.


Go over the steps of making decisions: identifying the problem | analyzing the situation | solving the problem | evaluation/reflection. Get your students into groups and give them a problem to solve. Focus on the process, not the answer. Ask them to elaborate (write down) details about the process they went through to get to their conclusion. Examples: Car breaks down, a friend shares your secret, slept through an exam.

Bringing SEL into the class will help your students grow on so many levels. Here at Minga we support SEL in the classroom through multiple citizenship and social programs. Ask us about our digital SEL programs.

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