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What is SEL?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a comprehensive approach to education that recognizes the critical role of emotional and social development in fostering academic success and overall well-being in students. At the heart of SEL are the five core competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. These competencies serve as a foundation for creating learning environments that enhance students' abilities to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has adapted these principles into its educational framework, recognizing the importance of integrating SEL into the state's curriculum. This adaptation ensures that SEL is not an add-on but a critical component of the educational experience, designed to prepare students for the complexities of the modern world both inside and outside the classroom.

The benefits of SEL for students extend well beyond the classroom. Socially and emotionally competent students are better able to navigate interpersonal relationships, work effectively in teams, and understand diverse perspectives. Academically, SEL has been linked to improved classroom behavior, higher academic achievement, and reduced emotional distress. Students equipped with SEL skills are more resilient in the face of challenges and are better prepared to tackle academic tasks.

It's important to note that SEL is not a new concept or a radical departure from traditional education. Rather, it's a natural extension of good teaching practices that have always valued the holistic development of students. SEL simply provides a structured framework for what great educators have always intuitively known and practiced: that supporting the emotional and social growth of students is essential for their success in school and life. Through SEL, schools become not just places of intellectual development but also nurturing environments that contribute to the development of well-rounded individuals.