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Revision as of 22:02, 25 November 2017

Back to { Social Emotional Learning in the Secondary Classroom }

Unit 2: The Benefits and Detriments of Social Emotional Learning

During Unit 1, Social Emotional Learning was defined as discussing interactions with people and feelings in a learning environment. Within this unit, we will discuss the learning model’s benefits and challenges as they could occur in a secondary education classroom.


  • You can attempt to recognize physical emotions.
  • You can analyze the potential benefits of SEL in the classroom.
  • You can analyze the potential detriments of SEL in the classroom.

Lesson 1: Defining Physical Emotions

In her article, Julie Beck (2015) explains that "The word 'emotion' did not exist in the English language until the early 17th century... [originally] it referred to agitations, bodily movements, or commotions." Due to a translator's error, the word moved over from France to Britain. During the middle of the 18th century, the idea of passions, affections, and thoughts became "lumped together under the umbrella of emotion" (Beck, 2015). In the 21st century, these emotions are commonly recognized in classrooms across the world. Often, these emotions can help educators determine if their lessons are moving in the right direction, or if students clearly understand the material... just as long as teachers can recognize and interpret these emotions.

Learning Activity

Are you able to recognize various emotions? Take this quiz based on Paul Ekman's Identifying Emotions Research: Kahoot: Recognizing Emotions

Once you finish taking the quiz, visit this page for more information: Interpreting the Results: Recognizing Emotions

Lesson 2: Analyzing the Benefits and Detriments

Before you introduce a new idea into your classroom, it is important to weigh the benefits and detriments that could potentially occur with it. This lesson will help you clearly outline why Social Emotional Learning could have a place in your classroom.


Now that you know what Social Emotional Learning is, let's take a look at information you need to know before welcoming it into your classroom. For clarification purposes, here are some terms you will need to understand before you move forward:

Beneficial is best defined as something favorable, or something that results in a good outcome. For example: The sunshine was very beneficial for the plants, because they needed nutrients from the sun.

Detrimental is best defined as something unfavorable, or something that results in a bad outcome. For example: The rain was very detrimental to the town, because a terrible flood occurred.

When participating in the learning activity below, try to think about the following ideas:

  • How could Social Emotional learning play a beneficial role in my classroom?
  • How could Social Emotional learning help my students?
  • How could Social Emotional learning play a detrimental role in my classroom?
  • How could Social Emotional learning create issues for my students?

Learning Activity

Reflecting on the Benefits and Detriments of Social Emotional Learning

For this activity, you will read through, watch, and/or listen to a number of different sources. While you read through, listen to, or watch the information presented, please write down a few important notes (3 - 5 bullet points) that will help you determine the benefits and detriments of Social Emotional Learning. These are the sources you need for the activity:

1. Video: "What is SEL and Why it Matters" (Committee for Children)

2. Article: Roger Weissberg's "Why Social Emotional Learning is Essential for Students"

3. Article: American Psychological Association's "Social Emotional Learning - A Process, Not A Product"

Sample Note Ideas:

  • SEL can be beneficial because it allows students to practice empathy.
  • SEL can be detrimental because it could be difficult to get all students to participate in Social Emotional activities.

Unit Assessment

For your specific classroom, do the benefits of Social Emotional Learning outweigh the detriments? Create a T-chart outlining the positives and negatives of this learning initiative. For reference, here is a sample T-chart that can help guide you in developing your own answers:

Benefits of SEL Detriments to SEL !

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Where do I go from here?

Head on over to your next unit... Unit 3: Evaluating the Social Emotional Model

  • Read into Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does the Research Say? by Joseph E. Zins, Roger P. Weissberg, Margaret C. Wang, and Herbert J. Walberg. Preview the e-book version here
  • Head to your local library to borrow Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators by Maurice J. Elias to gather some insight into Social Emotional Learning. You can preview the book here, and find links to purchase the books through the same link.