Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Published January 12th, 2022


More now than ever, integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) into classrooms is a powerful and effective way educators support their students’ well-being. Whether in-person or online, educators across the country have turned to SEL lessons, classroom activities, and best practices to connect with students and give them the tools they’ve needed and still need to cope with these challenging times. 


In this post, you’ll hear experts in the SEL field explain how social-emotional learning helps students develop the critical life skills they need to succeed in and out of a school setting. We’ll also share how educators can use Flipgrid to support SEL in their classrooms, along with some free resources and activities that’ll help you reinforce your SEL curriculum.

The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning

So, what is SEL? The long-standing definition of social-emotional learning is,


The process through which students 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.


According to Tia Kim, Ph.D. and Vice President of Education, Research & Impact at Committee for Children, SEL helps students learn “empathy, communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and self-regulation. These life-long skills prepare children to build and maintain positive relationships, excel academically, make responsible decisions, and collaborate in the workplace.” (See the recently updated definition of social-emotional learning from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL.)

SEL in the Classroom

How does this translate to the classroom? For educators, it’s an opportunity to connect with students personally and build relationships that help them feel safe and ready to learn. Flipgrid Educator Innovation Lead and 2018 Pinellas County, Florida, Teacher of the Year, Jess Boyce, says, “Students need to know that their classmates and teacher[s] care about them... to be successful in the classroom. Once relationships are built, and students trust they’re safe, the rest will follow.”


Dr. Kim added that, while SEL in the classroom is a proven and effective way to teach these skills, evidence shows the positive effects of integrating SEL school– and district-wide. This provides a 'whole child' educational approach with “...consistent messaging and critical reinforcement throughout [students’] days and school years” with shared "social-emotional language, skill sets, and strategies across a student's experience.” An example of this can be seen in the expanded SEL program implemented by the Tumwater School District in Washington state.


“Research proves that social-emotional learning has positive, lasting effects for K-12 students, including improved academic achievement, reduced conduct problems, lower emotional distress, and higher rates of graduation.”

—Tia Kim, Ph.D., Vice President of Education, Research & Impact
Committee for Children

Social-Emotional Learning Activities

Learning social-emotional skills takes practice. One of the best ways to do that is to use classroom activities that support SEL lessons. As any educator who’s searched for resources can tell you, there’s no shortage of social-emotional learning activities, it’s finding quality and affordable ones that can be an issue.  


We recently checked in with Atlanta educator Martha Bongiorno, a middle school librarian and host of Discovering the Remarkable, a website that offers SEL resources, activities, and book recommendations. In this article, she lays out 5 ways to use Flipgrid for social-emotional learning that includes SEL best practices like daily check-ins, sending positive vibes, stress relief, and other ways to positively engage with students of all ages.  


You can see 5 more ways to foster SEL with Flipgrid in this post from the eTwinz. Plus, Edutopia has this list of 9 ways to use Flipgrid in the Classroom that may inspire more ways to leverage our video discussion app to support SEL. 


In addition to these SEL resources for educators, Flipgrid has over thirty (and counting) free SEL activities in our Discovery Library—a collection of thousands of free educational activities created by our community of educators and prominent partners. The most recent addition is from our partners at Microsoft Education, who created The Feelings Monster. This fuzzy creature brings over 50 nuanced emotions to life to help educators initiate SEL lessons and students express the breadth of their emotional experience. 

SEL Questions for Students

Along with lessons and classroom activities, educators can support students’ social-emotional development by asking engaging questions to help them reflect on their progress and challenges in a safe space where they can share their voice and engage in meaningful discussions.  

This can be done during dedicated SEL time in daily or weekly lesson plans through SEL reflection prompts like those provided by CASEL, for example. Educators, administrators, and counselors can also do weekly or monthly check-ins with students to see how they’re doing and how they can better support their social-emotional growth. Try these 21 check-in questions from Panorama Education.

Give Them the Tools They Need

Social-emotional skills help kids thrive in and out of school. Providing students the life-long ability to cope with challenges they’ll face in school, at home, and in social or team settings, sets them up for success. When schools implement SEL in the classroom, it gives educators the opportunity to instill and foster these skills in their students throughout their formative years. 


Sign up for your free Flipgrid account on the web or with our mobile app to get access to everything we offer, including our extensive and growing library of free SEL content for your classroom.