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Focus Area 3


Foster supportive classroom environments that engage in explicit SEL and integrate SEL throughout instruction.

Because students spend the majority of their school day in classrooms, schoolwide SEL implementation requires cultivating supportive classroom environments and teaching practices that effectively engage students in deep academic, social and emotional learning.

As students move between classrooms, common language and aligned practices help reinforce social and emotional learning. When all classrooms provide supportive learning environments and hiqh-quality, consistent opportunities for SEL, students are better able to internalize what they’ve learned.

CASEL identifies three essential areas of hiqh-quality, SEL-focused classrooms. This section will provide your school team with guidance and resources to support teachers in developing aligned strategies for these areas:

A supportive classroom climate where students feel emotionally safe, part of a community of learners, motivated and challenged. This type of environment creates a strong foundation for students to engage fully and take academic risks (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017). This includes:

  • Community-building
  • Belonging and emotional safety
  • Student-centered discipline

Integration of SEL into academic instruction that weaves deep academic learning with opportunities for students to understand their own emotions, empathize with diverse perspectives, cultivate trusting relationships, solve problems constructively, and make decisions while considering the needs of others. This includes:

  • Fostering academic mindsets
  • Aligning SEL and academic objectives
  • Using interactive pedagogy

Explicit SEL instruction that provides consistent opportunities to cultivate, practice, and reflect on social and emotional competencies in ways that are developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive.

Evidence-based programs can support one or all three areas of the SEL-focused classroom. Your team may also choose to supplement a program with additional strategies contained in these sections.


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