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Social and Emotional Learning in the Spotlight

Harvard professor shares highlights to popular SEL guide in new podcast series
March 11, 2022 2 Min Read

​​​​​​​​The s​ocial isolation students experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures has shined a spotlight on unmet social and emotional needs. Secretary Cardona noted social and emotional learning (SEL) as one of his education priorities, and even President Biden referenced students’ social and emotional health in his first State of the Union speech.

Researcher Stephanie Jones and her team at Harvard’s EASEL Lab have been studying how to build children’s social and emotional skills since well before the pandemic and have recently published an updated and expanded guide to evidence-based SEL programs, Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out. The updated guide by Jones and her team at Harvard includes more programs overall, adding preschool programs into the mix; provides recommendations for adapting programs for out-of-school-time (OST) settings; and introduces new chapters on equitable and trauma-informed SEL.

In a new three-part podcast series, “Let’s Talk Social and Emotional Learning,” Jones and her EASEL colleague Thelma Ramirez sat down with Wallace’s communications director Lucas Held to discuss the history and current landscape of SEL, high-quality SEL in practice and the intersection of SEL and equity, among other topics.

In the video clips here Jones breaks down some of the key topics in the updated SEL guide and its new components.​

SEL for Pre-K

Teaching the whole child goes beyond traditional academics; it includes building and holding positive relationships, establishing trust and comfort and fostering feelings of safety and belonging. Jones explains how this starts as early as preschool and how SEL lessons taught in Pre-K can provide valuable lessons for other grades.


Sports teams, music and theater clubs, student government and other OST programs are natural settings for children and youth to develop social and emotional skills. Jones highlights the importance of bridging students’ in-school and OST experiences and aligning SEL across both learning environments.

Trauma-Informed SEL

As the pandemic continues and schools navigate a “new normal,” trauma-informed SEL is more important than ever. Educators are under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure, and Jones reminds us that SEL is not just for children but is critical for adults’ social and emotional wellbeing as well.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​To learn more about SEL, the SEL guide and its new components, tune in to the Let’s Talk Social and Emotional Learning podcast series.

You can also download the SEL guide here.

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