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What Is Social And Emotional Learning?

Learn how to apply social emotional learning at Fresno Pacific University

Social and emotional learning (SEL) refers to the process by which children and adults understand and manage their own emotions and develop empathy for others. SEL also involves learning how to create and maintain positive relationships, set goals, control impulses and make responsible decisions.

Studies show strong SEL is critical to student success. SEL also supports success in adulthood by helping students develop “soft skills” that employers highly value. It also helps them steer clear of pitfalls that befall young adults.

Teachers know the value of SEL. That’s why many choose to learn about the latest practices and programs in SEL through continuing education. Fresno Pacific University provides professional development courses for teachers built around the concept of social emotional learning.

“Teachers have a huge impact on young minds. That gives them a lot of responsibility, but it also creates opportunity,” said Connie Enns-Rempel, who teaches SEL-related courses at Fresno Pacific University. “By knowing and applying proven SEL concepts, they can better teach the whole child, helping them feel secure and safe in the classroom and setting them up for success in life.”

The Importance of SEL

Studies have shown SEL improves students’ lives in many ways, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The organization works to make evidence-based SEL part of K-12 education.

CASEL reports that studies have shown SEL impacts students in three main areas.

Academic achievement

An analysis of 270,000 students found that those who participated in SEL programs had an 11% gain in academic achievement.

Improved behavior

Studies show that students who go through SEL programs have lower dropout rates and fewer instances of school and classroom behavior issues, drug use, teen pregnancy, mental health problems and criminal behavior.

Return on investment

SEL programs offer a return of $11 for every $1 spent.

Students also learn to manage themselves better. This includes self-awareness, self-regulation and developing self-esteem.

A Framework for SEL Programs

CASEL provides a framework for building SEL programs. These five areas lay the groundwork for SEL and support students where they need it most. Teachers learn about these areas when studying the role of social and emotional learning in the classroom.


This involves getting students to recognize their own emotions and how it impacts their behavior. This starts them on the road of creating a sense of confidence and optimism built on an understanding of strengths and limitations.


Once students understand their emotions, it’s important to learn how to control them. In this area, they learn to regulate thoughts and emotions while better managing stress, impulses and learning how to motivate themselves.

Social Awareness

Learning and managing their own emotions leads to students better understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others. This includes understanding people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Relationship Skills

When they understand themselves and others better, students can learn to build and maintain healthy relationships with others. In this area, students learn how to improve communication and listening skills. They also learn how to cooperate with others and resist social pressure.

Responsible Decision-Making

Pulling together everything they have learned, students develop the skills and knowledge needed to make responsible choices about their own actions and how they interact with others. They consider ethical standards, social norms, the evaluation of consequences and the well-being of others.

How Fresno Pacific University Prepares Teachers For SEL

Fresno Pacific University offers courses that help teachers learn how to apply SEL to the classroom. The certificate and courses include Social Emotional Learning CertificateWhole Student Education For Social Learning, Social Emotional Learning Through Sports and Physical Education, Trauma-Informed Teaching and Helping Children Succeed.

Each course offers teachers continuing education credits and a different aspect of SEL that they can apply to the classroom. Learned skills include how to develop activities in the classroom that bolster SEL and techniques for teaching children positive social skills. They also learn how to reinforce cooperative play and help students feel like a valued member of a group.

Fresno Pacific University offers teachers these classes to further their skills and offer them professional development courses from an accredited university. They not only fulfill teacher requirements for continuing education, they also learn how to apply SEL concepts to create better learning experiences for students.