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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

SEL in SLCSD logo

In an effort to promote our students’ social, emotional, and academic learning, the Salt Lake City Board of Education has made Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) a priority. But what is SEL? And, more importantly, what does this mean for your student? 

What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning 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. There are five core SEL competencies that are taught in many ways and across many settings: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-making. The research documenting the impact of SEL is compelling. More than two decades of research show that education promoting social and emotional learning gets results. The findings come from multiple fields and sources, including student achievement, neuroscience, health, employment, psychology, classroom management, learning theory, economics, and the prevention of youth problem behaviors.

You can learn more at these sites:

What we're doing

The Board of Education has earmarked funds to support the implementation of Salt Lake City School District’s SEL Framework. We have used these funds to: 

  • Hire six full-time social workers to support students across our school district, 
  • Hire counselors for each of our elementary schools, 
  • Hire a Director of Social and Emotional Learning to oversee the SEL efforts in SLCSD and to create an SEL plan for our district, and
  • Introduce our SEL Signature Practices: Welcoming Routines, Engaging Practices, and Optimistic Closure. Our focus signature practice for 2019-2020 is Welcoming Routines: creating welcoming, inclusive, and nurturing schools. 

Other important steps we’ve taken this year include holding a suicide prevention training for 100 bus drivers in SLCSD, administering an SEL survey to our schools to help us know how we can best help our students, collaborating across schools and departments in the district to implement a whole-child approach, and planning future training for teachers, counselors and school administrators. 

What's happening at your school?

Many schools are already doing some fabulous SEL Practices, including the following: 

  • Mindfulness 
  • Yoga 
  • Brain breaks 
  • Peace paths 
  • Community Circles 
  • Calming Centers

For ideas on how to support SEL at home, please visit: here to visit SEL communities


Emily Sutherland

Emily Sutherland

Director Social and Emotional Learning


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