Pedagogies for SEL

Social and emotional learning are intrinsic in all aspects of the life and work of the school.  As a result we need numerous pedagogies to support SEL.  Each pedagogy is of greater or lesser value according to the people, purposes, needs and context involved.
Note: 'Context' includes the histories, experiences and capabilities of those involved including staff, families and the community.

Common  pedagogies for social and emotional learning include
  • quality teaching - supporting all learning as a social and emotional endeavour
  • literature studies - all good literature includes social and emotional content
  • role playing games - provide novel experience and new insights
  • active supervision - engaging with students in a range of contexts
  • circles, meetings conferences - engaging collaboratively around social and emotional matters
  • restorative questions - for when things go wrong
  • SEL programs - using some of the many available programs to specifically address social and emotional learning - see KidsMatter (for primary schools) and MindMatters (secondary) for information on a wide range of SEL programs. Also the The Australian Guidance and Counselling Association index of programs
  • philosophy - teaching thinking skills, ways of thinking and acting and addressing social and emotional issues
  • themes and topics - structured learning sequences focusing on chosen social and emotional matters
  • leading: directing for action, coaching for skills, mentoring for understanding, collaborating for effectiveness
  • expectations - embedding explicit social and emotional expectations in the life and work of the school
  • action learning
  • solution focus
  • values, rules, regulations -
  • structures, organisation, policies -
  • problem solving, responses and consequences
  • engaging in dialogue - discussion, agreement, negotiation, mediation, arbitration
  • counselling, therapy and other support services
  • acknowledgements: greetings, feedback, tokens, awards, celebrations...
  • modelling:  often needs to be made explicit
  • ...

  • The four SEL elements overlap and so it is not necessary to address each one separately.
  • Each of the above pedagogies can be used to support SEL in each of the four areas

RECOMMENDATIONS: implement SEL through improved pedagogies
  1. Focus on quality teaching
  2. Start by including emotional literacy within regular literacy lessons
  3. Follow up with incidental SEL coaching within active supervision
  4. Extend this to include emotional literacy within all learning areas
  5. Use everyday circles
  6. Develop restorative problem solving practices


There are negative forms of SEL
  • harassment
  • unfair exclusion
  • put-downs
  • intimidation
  • taking advantage of younger, more naive people
  • ...

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