Supporting Social and Emotional Development Through Respect and Reflection

An Update to Our Guiding Principles of Social and Emotional Learning

Our Applied Learning Sciences team initially crafted the 5 Guiding Principles of Social and Emotional Learning based on existing research, but have since identified important emerging spaces in SEL that needed to be incorporated into the existing principles. The Applied Learning Sciences team is constantly reading education research, examining trends, and searching for instructional practices that can help teachers translate research findings into the classroom.

To incorporate new SEL research trends and provide educators with additional SEL instructional strategies, the second edition of the Guiding Principles of Social and Emotional Learning now contains two additional principles, which primarily focus on aspects of culturally responsive and equitable SEL. As a resource based on a rapidly evolving space, this document will continue to change as new research emerges in order to reflect and pass on new best practices in SEL as best as we can.

You can find the full principles document here or at the bottom of this post. For a quick look at the additional principles, keep reading:

New Principle: Reflect

The team has added the “reflect” principle to emphasize the importance of the social and cultural contexts that are inherently embedded into SEL. Necessary SEL supports will not look the same for every child, in part due to cultural differences.

In order to provide all students with SEL supports according to their needs, the “Reflect” principle encourages educators to engage in continuous reflection, both through social and cultural reflection as well as self-reflection.

When engaging in social and cultural reflection, educators should do their best to understand a students’ home culture, social and cultural norms, and how those might translate to the classroom. Students should feel that their cultures are reflected in SEL instruction, not isolated from it, and that SEL instruction is relevant to their lives. They should be able to see themselves in their learning, and teachers should be very mindful of how social and cultural influences might impact a student’s relationship with school and home.

Self-reflection is also important for SEL instruction. This part of the principle is intended to encourage educators to consider how their own beliefs, behaviors, expectations, and norms might impact the classroom environment. By continually engaging in self-reflection, teachers can identify barriers and spaces for growth.

Sample Reflect Strategy:

Regularly invite students to participate in “from my eyes” activities, in which students can describe situations from their own cultural perspective. Be sure to offer students the option of anonymity.

Find more instructional strategies for both social and cultural reflection as well as self-reflection in the full guide.

New Principle: Respect

The second addition to the guiding principles of social and emotional learning focuses on teaching and modeling respect for others. Respect — received and given — is a strong component of SEL, and will impact students’ social and emotional well-being throughout their lifespans. In the context of SEL, students should be taught to respect the needs and beliefs of others and should always receive respect while in the learning space.

Respect can be integrated into SEL instruction by emphasizing the importance of caring for and assisting others. Cultural nuances should be taken into account during discussions of respect because what is deemed respectful in one culture may not reflect what is considered respectful in another culture. Acknowledging and respecting these differences will require all SEL stakeholders to be flexible, empathetic, and collaborative.

Sample Respect Strategy:

Integrate and explicitly highlight opportunities for building student-to-student trust and respect into existing classroom activities.

Find more instructional strategies for both social and cultural reflection as well as self-reflection in the full guide.

Find the 7 Guiding Principles of Social and Emotional Learning here:

Read more about SEL: