Teaching the Whole Child: How SEL is Essential in High School

In today’s competitive job market, employers are not only looking for technical expertise, but for candidates who possess strong social and emotional skills. Why are SEL skills critical for success in the workplace and beyond? Indeed, the #1 job site in the world1, recently shared the top skills that employers look for when hiring employees. SEL skills not only aid in employment but also motivate students to excel academically and post-graduation. Let’s explore SEL’s role in teaching the whole child and developing the top skills sought by employers 

Communication Skills  

Effective communication is fundamental in any workplace. Employers seek candidates who can clearly express ideas, actively listen, and collaborate with others. The social and emotional domain of relationship skills develops communication skills as it emphasizes empathy and appropriately expressing emotions. Encouraging open expression, respecting others, and active listening in students fosters strong communication skills for professional settings.

Leadership Skills 

Leadership skills are highly sought-after by employers, regardless of the job level. SEL fosters leadership skills by encouraging students to understand their strengths through the development of the domain of self-awareness. By promoting self-regulation and self-motivation, SEL empowers students to become effective leaders who inspire and influence others positively. 

Teamwork Skills 

The ability to work effectively in a team is crucial in today’s collaborative work environments, especially when working with team members across time zones or around the world. Employers look for candidates who can collaborate with diverse team members, contribute their ideas, and work toward a common goal. The SEL competency of social awareness plays a pivotal role in teaching students the importance of interacting with others in a way that shows respect for their ideas and behaviors. When students learn to value diverse perspectives, respect others, and work collaboratively, they develop strong teamwork and collaboration skills that are highly valued both in school and out of school. 

Adaptability and Resiliency 

Employers need employees who can adapt to changing circumstances and overcome unanticipated changes. SEL skills like responsible decision-making and optimistic thinking teach students to manage stress, regulate their emotions, and develop resilience even during tough times. Furthermore, it encourages a growth mindset that focuses on teaching the whole child.  

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills 

Employers value candidates who can analyze complex situations and solve problems effectively. SEL skills like self-management and responsible decision-making nurture critical thinking and problem-solving skills by encouraging students to make informed decisions. SEL also fosters creativity, curiosity, and innovative thinking, which are essential for addressing real-world problems and coming up with effective solutions. 

What Motivates Students?

Students who associate that what they are learning in school has a direct correlation to their success in their future endeavors are more engaged and motivated by the subject matter. A 2017 meta-analysis of 82 SEL interventions involving more than 97,000 K–12 students found the academic performance of students who participated in an SEL program was 13% higher than peers not participating in SEL programs. Encourage students to stay engaged in class by focusing on SEL within academics so that they feel prepared to take on the world after they graduate. 

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1 Indeed Editorial Team. (2023, February 3). Top 11 skills employers look for in job candidates. Career Guide. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/skills-employers-look-for

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