Last Updated on June 15, 2021 by Laura
Most students and educators have just completed the most challenging year in their educational lives. The Covid-19 pandemic has turned our regular school routines upside down, backwards, and on their heads! This has brought stress and anxiety to a myriad of students and the adults who care for them. So, now more than ever it is important to address SEL in the school library.
What is SEL?
SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.https://casel.org
SEL stands for Social and Emotional Learning. Over 20 years ago, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defined SEL (according to their website). They have identified 5 key skills, or competencies, which are essential for success in school, work, and life. These skills help center the mind and body and reduce emotional tension so students can be open to new learning.
According to CASEL, “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”
The CASEL 5
If we are mindful of the 5 core competence areas of SEL, school librarians can really make a difference in the lives of their students. Let’s take a look at the “CASEL 5” and keep them in mind as we plan our library lessons and routines.
- Self-Awareness: The ability to identify emotions and connect thoughts and feelings to behaviors.
- Self-Management: The ability to motivate and control oneself, and to regulate emotions.
- Social Awareness: The ability to embrace diversity and show empathy.
- Relationship Skills: The ability to collaborate and cooperate with others, as well as to solve conflicts.
- Responsible Decision Making: The ability to consider the well-being of oneself and others, and to evaluate the consequences of behaviors and actions.
Why is SEL important in the school library?
The library plays such a crucial role in school culture and we have a broad reach within our school community. As the school librarian, you are a leader to your students, their families, and your colleagues. Therefore, it is important that we consider these concepts in our library lessons and routines. SEL in the school library is important because…
- Your school library is the center of your school and has an important role to play in the culture of your school.
- We have the unique opportunity to teach and interact with all of the students in our school.
- Although we have limited time with students, some will be coming back year after year and our efforts in the library can be cumulative.
How can we support Social and Emotional Learning in our school library?
- Make sure you understand your school’s current approach to SEL, and actively participate in programs and policies already in place. Your school community may use PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) like our schools in Montana (We have MBI, or the Montana Behavior Initiative).
- Be part of the team! SEL is most effective within a coordinated effort throughout the school while also extending to families and the community.
- You can purchase books and materials to support SEL within your school. Searching on Pinterest will lead you to lots of SEL book lists. Ask for recommendations and requests from teachers and students, and let them know when these items come in. Promote these resources with special displays in the library and the faculty room, in announcements and parent newsletters.
- Think about SEL concepts as your plan your library routines and lessons. Maybe one of those books that you purchased lends itself well to a read-aloud/lesson activity.
Strong social and emotional learning skills equip our students for success in school, work, and life. SEL in the school library needs to be a priority. Let’s do our part to give our students the tools they need!
Read more about SEL in the School Library
Check out these articles about library lessons that support SEL in the school library:
- How Yoga Storytime Helped My Students Focus
- Encourage Growth Mindset with the Questioneers
- Yoga Storytime for Distance Learning
- Characters to Inspire Your Students
Be the light!