If you haven’t heard of it, it’s understandable. This year is just the second year of this campaign (hopefully, annual) to create international recognition of the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools and communities globally. The idea of behind SEL Day is setting aside a dedicated day for educators and community groups to create activities that raise awareness of the critical role of SEL in young people’s development.
Not all educational communities are equally versed in SEL. It includes the critical skills needed to manage emotions, exercise self-regulation (self-control), and extends to the skills to flourish in schools, relationships, and the workplace. The ability to feel empathy, and work well with others? SEL.
Here’s one example of why it’s worth extolling the virtues of SEL for a day. Its integration in early education has been shown to increase students' academic performance by 11 percentile points, according to research from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), lead to better stress management and decision-making, and increased behavioral control. It’s also linked with reduced anxiety and depression in adulthood. CASEL and collaborating researchers conducted more than 82 studies on nearly 100,000 students worldwide and found that SEL programming can have a positive impact on the academic, social lives, and decision making of young people for up to 18 years.
The first SEL Day last March was a joint project of Urban Assembly and SEL4US, a global campaign kicked off with the website selday.org, which includes toolkits to guide participants in advocating for SEL in communities worldwide.
Here are some of the things they urge doing:
*Highlight SEL best practice in your school, organization or community with an article, video, podcast, or other presentation
*Spread the word through social media and educational events shared across your networks
*Contact local policymakers in support of initiatives that support SEL through education grants
*Organize a SEL Day activity in your school, organization, or community, or donate to an SEL organization
*Mention #SELDay on your social media, or change your social media profile picture to promote SEL Day
There are all kinds of events planned online – panels, podcasts, live Twitter chats, and webinars. Three online panels I’m looking forward to in particular, organized by SEL day founders:
Students of the future — What skills should we have imparted to students so they achieve their goals and become caring, civically-engaged members of their communities? What should a “graduate profile” look like?
Public policy and SEL — How can legislation help youth overcome emotional, cognitive, and mental health challenges?
Equity — How can SEL help address inequities in school environments, examining educators’ role in student success, and questioning our own biases?
COVID put stresses on everyone—including young children—and has brought the importance of SEL to the fore more than ever, by putting a spotlight on children’s mental health and wellness. And a dedicated day is a great campaign to recognize a critical part of children’s development that needs to be considered in every classroom, and every policy affecting children and families.