Social Emotional Learning Online

“SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” (CASEL, 2022)

Research into social emotional learning has demonstrated a positive correlation with academic success as students demonstrate attitudes and behaviours that align with that of an authentically engaged learner. There is also evidence of social emotional learning having impact to reduce both negative behaviours and negative emotions.

Foundational to social emotional learning is the notion that it is a collaborative and systemic effort involving schools, families, and communities. This may seem daunting in the virtual classroom experience where educators may experience isolation in comparison to their colleagues, but it is worth persevering to ensure that social emotional learning takes place. It may involve delving into some big questions:

  • What curriculum and instruction might be leveraged to support social emotional learning in the online environment?
  • What schoolwide practices and policies might exist that would enhance social emotional learning in the virtual classroom?
  • What family and community partnerships might be leveraged through digital connections to promote social emotional learning in the digital realm?

Students learning in the online realm benefit from the same considerations as those in brick and mortar buildings. Planning should take into account explicit opportunities for students to engage in social emotional learning in order to develop self-awareness, engage in self-management, promote responsible decision-making, enhance social awareness, and fortify relationship skills. Some questions for educators to ponder as they plan for the virtual learning environment may include:

  • What welcoming and/or inclusion activities might engage students in authentically sharing about themselves while gaining appreciation for the perspectives of others?
  • How will routines and rituals in the online classroom support learning?
  • What engaging strategies might be implemented to invite both interaction and reflection from students?
  • How might brain breaks be leveraged in the virtual environment to get students up and moving in order to refresh their minds?
  • What transition techniques might be leveraged to provide guidance for all while at the same time supporting those learners who truly benefit from these cues?
  • How might lessons be ended to provide an optimistic closure by celebrating the day’s achievements and building anticipation for the next day?


Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). 2022. Fundamentals of SEL. Retrieved from

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). 2019. SEL 3 signature playbook: A tool that supports systemic SEL. Retrieved from

Sign up to receive access to newly added resources and video content, advance notice for sessions/workshops, discounts for learning events and resources, plus so much more!

Author: Jennifer Ferguson