Social Emotional Learning: What’s the big idea?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been a focus across the nation in an effort to support the social and emotional well-being of students given the pandemic and its effect on mental health. This work is not new, nor is it something that is just now being done in schools. Yet, now more than ever, because of the state of emergency declared on our children and youth’s mental health by the AAP, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and Children’s Hospital Association there is a need to prioritize social emotional learning.

Simply put, SEL is a process for all people to develop their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship skills. When we actively practice ways to strengthen these five competencies, we increase our emotional intelligence, or EI. In 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman’s research on emotions and the brain led to his book, Emotional Intelligence. One of the important messages shared in Goleman’s book and research was that schools should teach about emotions along with academics because of one very key finding – EI is a strong predictor of life success.

Even before Goleman’s recommendation, school counselors, social workers, psychologists, teachers, and other school staff have been teaching to SEL competencies for years to support mental health and to prepare young people for life success once they graduate. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) has compiled years of research on the benefits of SEL. Increased attendance, graduation rates, and connection to school; along with decreased emotional stress, conduct problems and suspensions are a few benefits for students and schools. Also, when teachers work on SEL competencies alongside students, they experience less burnout and are more likely to stay in the classroom longer.

Please keep in mind that discovering how you think, feel, and act (self-awareness), how to manage hard situations and the feelings that come with that (self-management), how to understand different situations and empathize with others (social awareness), how to choose things that are best for you (responsible decision making), and how to make connection with others and value people (relationship skills) is learning that we can ALL take part in across classrooms, schools, families and our community!

SEL4NM, the social and emotional learning alliance for New Mexico, has recently organized as a state group of SEL4US to connect, promote, support, and advocate for SEL. SEL4NM strives to improve the lives of all young people and adults by empowering advocates to support social and emotional learning in New Mexico. Friday, March 11th is SEL Day. SEL4NM invites you to celebrate social emotional learning by sharing your “Home Remedies for Wellness” on your favorite social media platform. Here are some suggestions shared by Ali Moore, founding member of SEL4NM, on what a home remedy could be:

  • Favorite song to elevate your mood
  • Honoring your ancestors – who is your legacy connected to? Who inspires you? 
  • Favorite healthy meal/recipes 
  • What makes you smile or laugh?
  • Favorite way to move your body
  • Favorite way to build connections and foster relationships with others
  • Favorite NM destination to enjoy being in nature
  • Best, in-the-moment, strategy to center or regulate yourself
  • Favorite inspirational quote or powerful affirmation

If you are inspired to create your own Home Remedies for Wellness, we invite you to tag SEL4NM on your posts to share with others. Find us on Instagram, @sel4nm, Twitter, @Sel4Nm, and Facebook, Sel4nm.

To learn more about SEL Day 2022, go to or to learn more about SEL4NM. Dr. Soña Alaniz Saiz, LCSW, is the Coordinator of Mental Health and Academic Counseling for Las Cruces Public Schools and a founding member of SEL4NM.