Special Report

Social-Emotional Learning: What Really Works

November 7, 2022
A student in Stephanie Brugler, during the educational development of SEL with her students of Jefferson PK-8 school.
A student in Stephanie Brugler 3rd grade class participates in an SEL lesson on emotions at the Jefferson PK-8 school in Warren, Ohio, on Nov. 1, 2022.
Daniel Lozada for Education Week
Social-emotional learning is at a critical moment in its evolution. 

The damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being is now crystal clear. Students’ math and reading skills have plummeted, erasing years of gains; and many students are struggling to learn how to regulate their emotions, feel empathy for others, and set reachable goals for themselves.

At the same time, some school district SEL programs have run up against intense opposition from parents and politicians, who take issue with how SEL development is being linked to learning about racism, sexism, and LGBTQ issues. 

To properly address these challenges, schools will need to do a better job communicating to their communities what their SEL programs actually teach; designing social-emotional learning strategies that are tailored to the specific needs of their communities; and evaluating the effectiveness of those strategies.

This special report provides a roadmap for how to make that happen. 
Coverage of leadership, summer learning, social and emotional learning, arts learning, and afterschool is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.