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SEL Series – What is SEL?


I recently had an aha moment – I have written several blogs about Social Emotional Learning (SEL), but I have not clearly defined what it is.

So just what is social-emotional learning and why do we need it? In the next few blogs, I will provide you with a crash course of the five core competencies of social-emotional learning. These blogs will help you with understanding the functional purpose of the competencies, and how SEL helps children acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills essential to managing emotions, showing empathy for others, and establishing positive relationships. 

Let’s begin with self-awareness.

Self-awareness indicates a child’s ability to perceive his or her strengths and limitations realistically. It’s their process of becoming aware of their emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior.


I remember my mother picking up my brother’s report card. My brother asked his friend, “Man, how did you do?” He grinned and said,” I got straight fanatics.” I thought WHAT! Fanatics? This remark still makes me chuckle because I thought why he was so happy with receiving F’s on his report card. I wondered if he was aware of his academic performance. A student like my brother’s friend was not fully self-aware of the need for improvement. His excitement lacked an accurate assessment of his academic efforts.

Self-aware children

1. Explain how they are feeling.

2. Ask for feedback.

3. Show knowledge of her/his strengths.

4. Ask questions to clarify what she/he did not understand.

5. Make accurate statements about events in her/ his life.

6. Teach others how to do something.

Why is it essential to build students self-awareness?

Self-awareness plays a critical role in how students experience and process how they think, feel and act. Building students ability to examine themselves and relate to the world around them help them to understand other people ‘s perspectives. More importantly, this skill will help them to respond appropriately to different social situations.

If you want to learn more about building childrens’ self-awareness, the following links might be useful:




Tiana Brown is the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority Learning Centers


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