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Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning 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 social and emotional learning 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 social and emotional learning (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 California Department of Education (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, 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 Social Emotional Learning 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 CDE’s press release on California’s participation in the Collaborating States Initiative.


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


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 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Planning listserv, send a "blank" message to

To unsubscribe from the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Planning listserv, send a "blank" message to

To view archived SEL newsletters, visit the Collaboration in Common SEL Newsletter Archive California Department of Education collection web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Questions:   Julia Agostinelli | | 916-322-9503
Last Reviewed: Monday, July 15, 2019
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