OPINION: Are the SEL Lessons effective?


Every Monday and Friday, Lancer time teachers work their way through the mandatory SEL (Social Emotional Learning) lessons, but whether they are effective is another question. 

School counselors Lorraine Marshall and Jillian Scharl are currently in charge of scheduling the lessons and working with the content. 

“SEL lessons are mandated by the school board in response to research done that proves that students with strong SEL skills are more successful in and out of school,” Marshall explained. 

Counselors are hoping that we will learn about some of the following concepts from these lessons:

  • Self-awareness,
  • Self-management,
  • Social awareness,
  • Relationship skills, and
  • Responsible decision making

Although these life skills seem like they would get everyone on board, some students feel otherwise.

“In all honesty, almost everyone in my class isn’t interested in the lesson, but we pay attention because our teacher tells us to,” 8th grader, Audrey W. stated.  “Many of my classmates talk to each other when the teacher is presenting the lesson, and we have to be reminded to close our computers numerous times.” 

Audrey, along with many others, said that she already knew most of the lessons taught. One recent lesson covered material that students had literally learned in health class immediately before Lancer Time.

Ms. Marshall has Ms. Scharl get input from Administrators and teachers regarding content,  and there are many lessons required by the county, as was the case with the Substance Use Prevention Lesson.

“Studies have shown that having these skills helps people lead successful lives,” Marshall said. 

The biggest hurdle to student buy-in is boredom. 

“It’s just another task we have to do during the day. There aren’t any positives about the SEL lesson, it’s mostly just a pain to do. It only reiterates all of the information covered in health class. I’d rather be doing homework,” 8th grader Siryn G. remarked. 

Even when not bored by the lesson, students have reflected that their class doesn’t pay attention to them, the only exception being when the teachers force them to do so.  The faculty, however, still believes that the SEL lessons help Longfellow as a community.

Some students have proposed to change the SEL Lessons in various ways. Including making them shorter and relevant to our school community, changing the lessons to make them more engaging to the students, and removing them altogether. 

According to Ms. Smith, student feedback has also been discussed at Raising Student Voices.