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Misconceptions I Had About SEL

by Diana Benner

While researching Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for TCEA’s new online course, I realized I had several misconceptions about the topic. If you are not familiar with social and emotional learning, it is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

I wanted to expose the errors in my thinking since they might be common misconceptions that we all have about SEL. Here are three fallacies I had about this topic and the truth I learned.

Misconception #1: SEL is only about feelings.

I always thought SEL was only about emotions and feeling. I was so wrong about this! I learned that SEL encompasses many skills. Emotions and feelings are only one part.

SEL not only helps students understand and manage their emotions, it also helps them set and achieve goals, show empathy for others, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. I was shocked by the numerous life-long skills that our students can gain from SEL.

Misconception #2: SEL skills don’t need to be taught.

I always thought SEL skills were something we were born with. I soon realized that students need to be taught SEL skills. Knowing how to manage emotions, get along with others, and solve problems are skills that students must learn. These skills also need to be practiced regularly in order to be perfected over time.

Misconception #3: SEL is only for students who don’t behave in class.

I believe this was my biggest misconception of all. I now understand that SEL is for all students, and not just those who act out in class. All students can benefit from SEL as it provides them the foundation for being successful, not only now, but for the rest of their lives.  

I realize how wrong my perspective about SEL was. I now know that SEL can have long-lasting, positive effects on students and help them thrive in school and throughout their lives.

If you would like help in implementing SEL in your classroom, check out our self-paced Social and Emotional Learning online course. Priced at just $29, the course features seven modules with short video segments and useful tips. Help your students understand their own self-awareness, build positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and more by enrolling in the course today.

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