Integration of SEL and Academic Instruction

Social and emotional competencies serve as a foundation for achieving academic goals, while academic instruction also provides a ripe opportunity for teaching and practicing SEL. Through schoolwide SEL, your team can ensure that SEL is woven throughout academic instructional time to support and deepen learning.

If you have already begun integrating SEL with academic instruction, use the rubric or the questions below to identify areas for continuous improvement: 

Are SEL standards/goals clearly embedded in academic learning?

Do students regularly share their perspectives on how social and emotional competencies connect to what they’re learning?

Do teachers actively engage students in co-constructing knowledge and making meaning of content through classroom discussions and collaborative structures?

Do teachers use intentional strategies to foster student ownership over their learning, including connecting their perspectives and experiences to instruction?

The integration of SEL and academics involve three interdependent components:

  • Fostering academic mindsets
  • Aligning SEL and academic objectives
  • Using interactive instructional practices and structures to promote SEL

We recommend that your SEL team supports teachers in using all three components to integrate SEL and academics. Your school may also choose to adopt an evidence-based SEL program that provides specific guidance and activities for integrating SEL and academics. (See the CASEL Program Guides for a list of evidence-based programs.) Not all evidence-based programs address SEL and academic integration, so you may choose to supplement your program with additional support for teachers.

Fostering Academic Mindsets CTA Arrow Aligning SEL and Academic Objectives CTA Arrow Using Interactive Pedagogy CTA Arrow

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Teacher Self-Assessment: SEL in the Classroom

This tool helps teachers track and reflect on their use of integration strategies and other ways of promoting social and emotional development in the classroom.


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Using Grade-Level Team Meetings to Support the Integration of SEL into Instruction

This tool provides guidance for using grade-level team meetings to collaborate and reflect on strategies for SEL integration.

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