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Social Emotional Learning

Second Step for Elementary
Second Step Kits

Rich Whitall.JPG

Rich Whitall, M.S., M.Ed.

School Counselor & Program Specialist for Social Emotional Learning

2425 Jefferson Street, Napa, CA 94558

Steps To Respect for Grades 3 - 5
STR Posters

Preventing Bullying and Improving School Climate Through Social-Emotional Learning

Research has shown that teaching social-emotional learning is as important as teaching math or language. What we used to refer to as "Character Education" is now called Social Emotional Learning and is taught in all elementary and middle schools in Napa Valley Unified School District.  We value teaching our students about empathy, problem solving, and emotion management and primarily use Second Step and Steps to Respect curriculum from Committee for Children.  Here’s why:

  • Students who learn social emotional skills are less likely to have problem behaviors, be rejected by peers, be victims of bullying, and have higher academic achievement.
  • Having empathy prepares students to manage their own strong emotions and solve interpersonal problems with others without resorting to aggressive behaviors like bullying or harassment
  • Students who practice emotion management and use problem-solving skills by recognizing strong emotions and calming down cope better and are less prone to impulsive or aggressive behaviors.
  • Social-emotional learning promotes students’ school success and connectedness and contributes toward a safe and respectful school climate.
  • Students who participate in Social-emotional learning are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors that interfere with learning, such as violence and drug and alcohol use
  • Students who can self-regulate are better able to participate in and benefit from classroom instruction.
  • Schools that teach SEL have fewer suspensions and expulsions and better student attendance

Ten Reasons Why You Should Care About Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

  1. Good social-emotional learning (SEL) contributes to healthy classroom and school climate.
  2. Teaching SEL can help prevent bullying in schools.
  3. SEL skills will serve students well as adults in the workplace.
  4. Good SEL skills can contribute to academic achievement.
  5. Problem solving is applicable to almost any situation a child or adult will encounter, from personal conflict to economic crises.
  6. SEL instruction may soon be included in federal laws.
  7. SEL and its accompanying communication and conflict-resolution skills can improve home and family life.
  8. Good SEL skills can increase children’s protective factors and decrease their risk factors.
  9. Teaching SEL to our children by example can have the positive side effect of improving our own SEL skills.
  10. On a global scale, SEL can contribute to a more peaceful world.
Second Step for Middle School
Second Step for Middle School

Good News About Academics: SEL Programs Work

When you teach students social-emotional skills, you are also giving students a boost in their school performance.  In the largest, most scientifically rigorous and up-to-date review of research on interventions that promote children's social-emotional development involving more than 288,000 students from school districts of all types and sizes has found that programs like Second Step produce the following gains for students:

  • 11 percentile-point gain in achievement test scores
  • 23 percent improvement in social-emotional skills
  • 9 percent improvement in attitudes about self, others, and school
  • 9 percent improvement in school and classroom behavior
  • 9 percent decrease in conduct problems, such as classroom misbehavior and aggression
  • 10 percent decrease in emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression


Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.

Hirschstein, M. K., Van Schoiack Edstrom, L., Frey, K. S., Snell, J. S., & MacKenzie, E. P. (2007). Walking the talk in bullying prevention: Teacher implementation variables related to initial impact of the Steps to Respect program. School Psychology Review, 36(1), 3–21.