Inside the Classroom

Applying Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in Your Classroom: SEL and Self-Awareness

Educators almost universally agree that time in the classroom should encompass more than simply teaching students how to perform academic tasks and recall information. Students should also be learning how to apply those tasks in their everyday lives and understand how the information they’re learning relates to the real world and the people around them. That’s why it has become so important for educators to consider social and emotional learning (SEL) in their lesson planning.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” Based on this, CASEL has broken SEL down into five interrelated competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

In this first installment of our five-part series on the SEL competencies, we’re taking a look at how you can incorporate SEL and self-awareness into your classroom.


SEL and Self-Awareness in Your Classroom

Learning self-awareness allows students to see how others see them, and it’s an important skill that can also help students learn how to self-advocate and embrace good study habits. Give students opportunities to explore and understand how they learn.

As a classroom activity, you can help students set individual academic goals each week. At the end of the week, ask students to reflect on why they did or didn’t achieve their goals. Then ask students to think about what changes they can make to overcome challenges or improve their methods for achieving their goals the following week. This gives students the ability to recognize how their strengths and weaknesses relate to their performance, enabling them to regulate their behaviors in ways that improve their learning.

Be sure to also remind students of their accountability in their own learning. While this is a responsibility, frame it as empowerment. Their success is largely in their hands. With that in mind, work with students to identify potential bad habits that might be interfering with their success. Negative mindsets, reluctance to work with and make use of classmates, and other self-defeating qualities can be identified and resolved by a student capable of self-auditing.


Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (n.d.). Core SEL competencies. CASEL. Retrieved from

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (n.d.). What is SEL? CASEL. Retrieved from

About the Author


Debbie Malone

Debbie is an Arizona native and longtime resident of the Phoenix area. She has always had a passion for telling a good story and decided to study journalism and mass communication at Arizona State University where she earned her BA in 2009. Following graduation, she spent four years working as a web content writer before joining the Edgenuity family in 2014. Debbie is proud to be able to share the story of her time at Edgenuity and the company's efforts to propel students everywhere toward academic success and achievement. In addition to writing (both professionally and for fun), Debbie also enjoys reading, gaming, archery, and avoiding sunlight.