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Books for Social Emotional Learning and Equity at Valley Cottage Library: Social-Emotional Learning

What is Social Emotional Learning?


The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is an organization that was formed in 1994 with the goal of establishing high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) as an essential part of preschool through high school education. 

CASEL defines Social and Emotional Learning as the process through which all young people and adults 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.

CASEL has identified Five Core SEL Competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making.

SELF-AWARENESS: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a wellgrounded sense of confidence and purpose. 

SELF-MANAGEMENT: The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations. This includes the capacities to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation & agency to accomplish personal/collective goals.

SOCIAL AWARENESS: The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, & contexts. This includes the capacities to feel compassion for others, understand broader historical and social norms for behavior in different settings, and recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. 

RELATIONSHIP SKILLS: The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed.

RESPONSIBLE DECISION-MAKING: The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations. This includes the capacities to consider ethical standards and safety concerns, and to evaluate the benefits and consequences of various actions for personal, social, and collective well-being. 


New York State Implementation 

To enable students to take full advantage of educational opportunities throughout their school experience in grades K-12 and, equally important, to prepare them for college and/or career, the School Climate and Student Engagement Workgroup of the New York State Safe Schools Task Force have identified the following goals to guide SEL benchmarks for New York State schools:

1. Develop self-awareness and self-management skills essential to success in school and in life.

2. Use social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.

3. Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.


The implementation of SEL within schools can be a powerful lever for providing equitable educational opportunities and learning environments. According to CASEL:

When SEL implementation is centered around equity, it can be a key strategy for promoting understanding, examining biases, reflecting on and address the impact of racism, building cross-cultural relationships, and cultivating adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create more inclusive school communities. This requires districts to pay close attention to the roles of race, oppression, and privilege, and situate SEL within larger community and historical contexts. With this lens, SEL can be used to intentionally drive systemic change, uplift marginalized voices, and promote belonging and equity.