How School Counselors and Teachers Can Work Together to Promote Social-Emotional Learning

how to teach social emotional learning in the classroom

School is about more than learning academics. It is also a prime environment for promoting social and emotional learning (SEL). In recent years, the Every Student Succeeds Act has called attention to this need. This act requires that states measure school success with at least one non-academic indicator, such as communication, empathy, or conflict management. In order to effectively teach children important developmental social and emotional skills, it is necessary for the teacher and the school counselor to work in an integrated way.

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social and emotional learning is the process of developing and using skills to identify and regulate emotions, develop positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Students with social and emotional skills are more likely to showcase positive social behaviors such as sharing, empathy, and kindness. They are also more likely to have a stronger growth mindset (the idea that positive traits, such as intelligence, can be developed with practice) and show greater resiliency. According to the Collaboration for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Social and emotional learning development encourages the following five core competencies:

  • Self-Awareness: Becoming self-aware by recognizing one’s own feelings, personal goals, strengths, and limitations on how they influence their behavior.
  • Self-Management and Emotion Regulation: Learning to regulate daily stressors and manage self-emotions. This includes self-discipline, self-motivation, and impulse control.
  • Social Awareness: Improving social development and awareness of others in the form of empathy and learning to appreciate cultural and social differences.
  • Relationship and Social Skills: Developing the necessary social skills to create lasting and meaningful relationships with individuals and groups different than self. This includes developing communication and teamwork skills.
  • Responsible Decision Making: Learning to make decisions when dealing with everyday problems, while also considering ethics, safety concerns, and everyday social norms.

The Teacher’s Role in Social Emotional Learning


Teachers spend the majority of the school day with the students. They can directly influence SEL development in the classroom at every grade level. SEL is important and shows the best results when learning opportunities occur early and continue throughout high school education. Teachers can implement the following SEL practices.

  • Get to know students by name
  • Start each day with a feelings check-in
  • End each day with a feelings check-out
  • Set clear expectations and classroom guidelines
  • Allow students to solve problems through question asking
  • Encourage teamwork within the classroom
  • Be competent of cultural and social differences
  • Create opportunities for the student to find their voice
  • Model social and emotional skills
  • Develop SEL interactions with students through positive relationships
  • Be consistent with teaching SEL methods

Check out this video for examples of feelings check-ins and more social-emotional development.