Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in the Middle and High School Years

Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in the Middle and High School Years

Programs to improve social-emotional learning (SEL) — self-awaremess, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making — for adolescents should leverage the developmental needs of youth, including their search for purpose and identity and peer approval, an issue brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds. The brief, Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in the Middle and High School Years (14 pages, PDF), found four primary approaches to fostering social-emotional competence and helping them succeed in school, work, and civic life: skill-focused promotion, academic integration, teaching practices, and organizational reform. Effective strategies for promoting SEL include involving students in setting goals, norms, or classroom guidelines; incorporating interactive or reflexive activities, peer mentoring, or family and community engagement; and organizing students into groups to build a sense of school community and promote students’ sense of belonging. The brief also found that leadership and planning, staff buy-in, and training are important factors in predicting implementation quality and outcomes.