Schools and districts across the country have increasingly made social emotional learning a part of student education. SEL recognizes that success in school – and life beyond school – involves more than academic success. It also requires a set of skills that include empathy, cooperation and making good decisions.
Bolstered by studies showing the positive impact on students, educators now seek SEL professional development to better implement social emotional learning activities in the classroom.
Fresno Pacific University, which offers hundreds of online professional development courses for educators, has a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Certificate program that prepares teachers for implementing best practices for SEL.
“By earning an SEL certificate from Fresno Pacific University, teachers will be more prepared to create supportive classroom environments and programs using evidenced-based, and equally importantly, age-appropriate strategies and interventions,” said Connie Enns-Rempel, who teaches in the Fresno Pacific University SEL certificate program.
“The certificate represents a recognition of this commitment to pursuing a significant level of preparedness to accomplish these SEL goals and helps communicate this commitment to others.”
What Is SEL?
Social emotional learning involves teaching students skills that help them better manage emotions, develop healthy identities, feel and show empathy to others, and set and achieve personal and collective goals.
Learning these skills helps students make more responsible, caring decisions and develop and maintain supportive relationships.
The Benefits of Social Emotional Learning
Studies have repeatedly shown social emotional learning activities in the classroom led to improvements in student performance and their ability to control emotions and resolve conflicts, among other areas.
Decades of research compiled by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in Chicago shows the benefits of SEL. The findings come from various disciplines and sources, including neuroscience, health, psychology, economics, classroom management and data on student achievement. These studies have shown that SEL leads to:
- An 11 percent improvement in academic performance
- Improved classroom behavior
- Better management of stress and depression
Also, kindergarten students exposed to SEL experienced lifelong impacts, including a decreased likelihood of seeking public housing, receiving public assistance, involvement with the police and spending time in a detention facility.
A study from researchers in the United States and Sweden expressed the impact of SEL in a cost-benefit context. They wrote that every $1 spent by schools on SEL produced $11 in benefits.
A Whole-Student Approach
The social emotional learning professional development courses offered by Fresno Pacific University focus on providing teachers the expertise they need to apply a whole student approach to the implementation of SEL. Enns-Rempel noted that the whole student approach meets the five areas that CASEL finds necessary for successful SEL implementation: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
“These five areas are best addressed when grounded in the larger concerns of understanding each student holistically,” she said.
Enns-Rempel said that SEL programs work when implemented in a coordinated, consistent way throughout a school district for students in K-12. “One of the important goals is to pursue a coherence and flow to these programs so that the concepts are integrated naturally into all aspects of the school culture,” she said.
This leads to an implementation of SEL that is coherent and has integrity.
All Educators Can Benefit from Learning SEL
Enns-Rempel noted that while the focus is most often on teachers and SEL, all educators can benefit from SEL courses and the SEL certificate program.
For example, the Whole Student Education for Social Emotional Learning course that is part of the SEL certificate program is designed for teachers, administrators, counselors and coaches. Enns-Rempel said nurses, speech therapists, social workers, and other educational professionals also benefit.
Enns-Rempel said it’s a privilege “to guide educators from all of these professional fields in enhancing and strengthening their SEL skills, adding to the important work that they are already doing.”
The 15-unit graduate-level program includes one core course (the Whole Student Education for Social Emotional Learning) and four electives of the educator’s choice. Elective courses in the certificate program include Guidance in Social/Emotional Behavior, which focuses on SEL for young children, and Grit: Passion & Perseverance, which looks at applying the lessons from psychologist Angela Duckworth’s book on high achievers.
Gaining the expertise offered in the SEL certificate program prepares teachers to give students skills that will help them in school and for the rest of their lives. One way you can implement a social-emotional learning environment to your classroom is by creating peer-student mediators.