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Social and Emotional Learning

Guidance and resources for supporting social and emotional learning.

T-SEL Competencies and Conditions for Thriving

These guidance tools, developed for voluntary use, aim to build on and respond to the call from California’s diverse stakeholders to embed equity-focused Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) in every learning and teaching context across the education system.

Social and Emotional Support During Distance Learning

Visit the California Department of Education (CDE) Social and Emotional Support During Distance Learning web page for resources for educators, educational leaders, and families/guardians in kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) schools, to provide social and emotional supports during distance learning.

Social and Emotional Learning Basics

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) reflects the critical role of positive relationships and emotional connections in the learning process and helps students develop a range of skills they need for school and life. SEL skills include the ability to:

  • set and achieve positive goals
  • feel and show empathy for others
  • establish and maintain positive relationships
  • make responsible decisions
  • understand and manage emotions

All of these skills are necessary—both for educators and students—to function well in the classroom, in the community, and in college and careers. 

While many teachers instinctively know that SEL is important, historically schools have been primarily focused on teaching academic content such as reading, math, science, and history, and less intentional about supporting the social and emotional skills that are so important to learning and life success. 

There is a growing body of research proving that SEL is fundamental to academic success, and must be woven into the work of every teacher in every classroom and every after school and summer learning program, if we truly want to prepare all our students for college and careers. 

The CDE is committed to helping educators learn more about SEL and how to make this a part of every child’s school experience. To support this work, the CDE has joined the Collaborating States Initiative External link opens in new window or tab. a group of states that share information, best practices, and promising tools and ideas in the interest of building strong SEL in schools across their states. The Collaborating States Initiative is hosted by the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning External link opens in new window or tab..

The CDE has convened a group of experts from different sectors of the education system to advise on the best ways to support SEL implementation. The following are products this team has developed:

See the CDE’s press release on California’s participation in the Collaborating States Initiative.

Advance Social and Emotional Learning Campaign

In 2020, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond launched the Advance SEL in California Campaign. The initiative gathered large-scale input through a forum called WikiWisdom External link opens in new window or tab., a virtual resource where educators, school leaders, and families can collaborate, interact with peers, and share best SEL practices to support students dealing with the impact of the Coronovirus (COVID-19) pandemic and over the long term. In total, the project engaged nearly 800 diverse California education stakeholders to gather perspectives on SEL practices, needs, and goals.

The project culminated with a report on the status of SEL in California, with recommendations for how teachers, school leaders, and families across the state can address the social and emotional needs of students, both in response to COVID-19 and over the long term. The findings in this report are grounded in what we heard from nearly 2,000 educators, students, parents, and other stakeholders throughout this project. The resounding message we heard was that SEL is more important than ever—and racial equity must be part of those SEL conversations.

For both the executive summary and the final report, visit the Education First website External link opens in new window or tab..

General Resources

To better understand the role of SEL in schools, the resources listed below are a good starting place. This list will be updated as relevant information is gathered and reviewed:

Support

If you need support in your school, district, or county in better understanding SEL or if you need implementation tools or technical assistance, the following are some resources to consider:

Register for Updates

If you would like to receive updates from the California Department of Education about California’s SEL efforts, please sign up for our listserv.

To subscribe to the SEL Planning listserv, send a "blank" message to join-sel-planning@mlist.cde.ca.gov.

To unsubscribe from the SEL Planning listserv, send a "blank" message to unsubscribe-sel-planning@mlist.cde.ca.gov.

To view archived SEL newsletters, visit the California Educators Together SEL Newsletter Archive collection web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Questions:   Professional Learning Innovations Office | CaliforniaSEL@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-9503
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Recently Posted in Social and Emotional Learning
  • T-SEL Readiness and Reflection Prompts (added 21-Jul-2021)
    Readiness and reflection prompts to support the implementation of California Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) Competencies and Conditions.
  • T-SEL Competencies: Self-Management (added 30-Jun-2021)
    The Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) competency of self-management is the ability to harness one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.
  • T-SEL Competencies: Social Awareness (added 30-Jun-2021)
    The Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) competency of social awareness is the ability to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.
  • T-SEL Competencies: Relationship Skills (added 30-Jun-2021)
    The Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) competency of relationship skills is the ability to establish, maintain, and restore healthy, supportive relationships and to navigate diverse settings.
  • T-SEL Competencies: Responsible Decision-Making (added 30-Jun-2021)
    The Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) competency of responsible decision-making is the ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.

  • T-SEL Long Descriptions (added 30-Jun-2021)
    Long descriptions of figures featured in the California Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) Competencies and Conditions.
  • T-SEL Competencies References (added 30-Jun-2021)
    References cited in the Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) Competencies.
  • Conditions for Thriving: School Leaders (added 30-Jun-2021)
    Guidance to support school leaders to co-create Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) Conditions for Thriving.
  • T-SEL Conditions: Classroom and Expanded Learning (added 30-Jun-2021)
    Guidance for people leading classrooms and expanded learning programs (educators) to co-create Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) Conditions for Thriving.
  • Conditions for Thriving: District Leaders (added 30-Jun-2021)
    Guidance to support district leaders to co-create Transformative Social and Emotional Learning (T-SEL) Conditions for Thriving.