Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social and Emotional Learning, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), "is a process for helping children and even adults develop the fundamental skills for life effectiveness. These skills include recognizing and managing our emotions, developing caring and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively and ethically."

SEL in Rhode Island

The Basic Education Program

Social and Emotional Learning plays a key role in the Basic Educational Program (BEP) regulations that all districts are required to follow. The BEP requires each district to "ensure that schools promote a positive climate with emphasis on mutual respect, self-control, good attendance, order and organization, and proper security. Each LEA shall develop protocols that define a set of discipline strategies and constructs that ensure that students and adults make positive behavioral choices and that are conducive to a safe and nurturing environment that promotes academic success." (BEP, Section G-14-2.1.4)


Share your Promising Practices in SEL 

RIDE is looking for evidence-based or promising practices related to SEL that are taking place with Rhode Island students. If you, or others you know, are involved in implementing strategies related to SEL, please download the Promising SEL Practices in Rhode Island form, fill it out and email it to Alice Woods or Sue Constable.


“An accepting and affirming relationship between teachers and students is recognized as one of the most important ingredients in school success." - Paul Bueno de Mesquita

The Case for SEL

Research has shown that Social and Emotional Learning contributes to increased academic learning and success in school. 


According to numerous studies (Zins et al., 2004; Weissberg et al, manuscript in progress)
, teaching social and emotional skills has been found to:

  • improve attitudes toward school and learning
  • increase school attendance, 
  • improve study habits and cooperative learning, and 
  • increase overall performance, including grades, test scores and subject mastery
  • lower rates of violence/aggression, 
  • decrease disciplinary referrals, and 
  • decrease substance use
Social and emotional competence is essential for college and career readiness and success. Social emotional learning strategies can be incorporated from pre-school through high school and beyond.

Core Competencies

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has identified five core groups of social and emotional competencies:

  • Self-awareness—being able to understand one’s feelings and beliefs, as well as developing self-confidence
  • Self-management—learning to manage and express emotions appropriately, controlling impulses, overcoming challenges, setting goals, and persevering
  • Social awareness—seeing other points of view and empathizing with others, and learning to accepti differences
  • Relationship skills—developing healthy and respectful relationships; managing  peer pressure; and handling conflict appropriately
  • Responsible decision-making—considering a variety of factors when making decisions and being aware of consequences

What Schools Can Do

CASEL has created Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader's Guide to Evidence- Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs.

In addition, schools may want to consider the following:

  • The development of social and emotional skills is a process.
  • While there are evidence based curricula related to social and emotional skill development, everyday school wide practices can teach and reinforce these skills.
  • Classroom practices can support the development of social and emotional learning in youth by utilizing multiple methods such as: reflective essays (self-awareness), service learning ( empathy) , role playing ( communication and decision making) and cooperative learning ( relationship skills).
  • Teachers who demonstrate social and emotional skills are role models.
  • Common school-wide practices can support social and emotional learning by:
    • promoting principles of child and adolescent development,
    • creating caring and predictable environments, and
    • incorporating social and emotional learning principles into in academic interventions to address academic failure.

School-wide interventions such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) are one of the most effective ways of supporting Social and Emotional Learning.