5 reasons why SEL is essential in the COVID era

Research done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina showed that students struggled when schools focused too quickly on remediation
By: | July 31, 2020
Social-emotional learning, or SEL, will help students and staff process emotions and traumas experienced during the COVID pandemic as regular instruction resumes. (GettyImages.com/Westend61)Social-emotional learning, or SEL, will help students and staff process emotions and traumas experienced during the COVID pandemic as regular instruction resumes. (GettyImages.com/Westend61)

As teachers restart learning this new school year, they should focus on student social-emotional learning, or SEL, before trying to make up for learning loss, educators and other experts say.

Students and staff will need to process the emotions and traumas experienced over the last several months before instruction can resume effectively.

“We don’t want to start the year off by testing students, we want to start the year off by connecting with students,” says Ebony Lee, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment at Clayton County Public Schools outside Atlanta.

Research done in the wake of Hurricane Katrina showed that students struggled when schools focused too quickly on remediation, rather than on social-emotional needs, Lee says. 


More from DA: Tackling trauma: 6 steps for enhancing student mental health care


Lee, and many of her colleagues in K-12 leadership across the country, say re-establishing relationships between students and educators will be the priority for the first few weeks of school.

Here are a few districts examples, along with advice from some SEL curriculum experts:

  1. COVID-era SEL means preparing students for the unknown
  2. 10 ways Austin ISD reinforces SEL during COVID 
  3. Why kids must feel safe before they can learn
  4. Student voice becomes a key component of SEL
  5. 9 ways to boost social-emotional learning post-COVID