A New Guidebook to Promote SEL in the Classroom
Launched in Fall 2022, RTI International’s Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practices in Low- and Middle-Income Countries addresses the “how” of programming SEL in diverse education settings in LMICs. Building on findings from the USAID-commissioned Social and Emotional Learning Systematic Review, we selected programs that demonstrated evidence for positively impacting academic and/or SEL outcomes, summarized that evidence, and described their key elements with illustrative examples.
To complement and contribute to the growing body of literature on SEL, we organized the Guidebook according to three broad approaches to SEL programming in the classroom.
- SEL Integrated into the Classroom: This section highlights pedagogical interactions and classroom experiences that foster SEL in ongoing instruction. For example, providing encouragement, appreciating effort, and maximizing group work or story time to support social learning and collaboration.
- Child-Centered SEL Activities: This section provides examples of student activities or games that target one or more SEL competencies. Games such as “I Spy” or “Simon Says” strengthen attention, memory, and other cognitive processing skills; “Feelings Charades” builds learners’ ability to recognize emotions and develop empathy, which support relationship building. These student activities can be delivered in the classroom itself as, for example, bridges between lessons or during extra-curricular activities.
- School Climate that Fosters SEL: This section focuses on the learning environment and provides guidance on establishing a school and classroom climate where all learners feel safe, supported, and included, which is fundamental to the success of any SEL program.
Culture and Contextualization: This final section orients readers to the importance of adapting SEL programs to context, underscoring that values placed on traits and behaviors differ according to how individuals need to adapt and succeed in different societies.
The goals of SEL programs, including decisions about targeted SEL traits and behaviors, need to be established based on an understanding of these societal differences. In this section we provide key steps that can help implementers understand the context based on existing research and experience in contextualizing SEL tools. This includes guidance on considering the sociodemographic profile of the participant group, reviewing existing data, and conducting rapid primary data collection.