We developed the Social Emotional Learning Foundations (SELF) curriculum over three years through funding by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. As part of that project, we synthesized a number of well-known and effective approaches to teaching social-emotional learning (SEL), such as: (1) providing sufficient program duration, (2) focusing on identifying and regulating emotions, (3) developing generalization strategies, (4) providing ongoing teacher support, and (5) incorporating multiple measures of program effectiveness. SELF topics center on five SEL competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, relationship management, and social problem solving. Lessons taught using both whole and small group instruction include five units (one unit per critical competency), and each unit includes two to four related and developmentally appropriate topics. Each SEL topic includes three to four lessons.
To provide a context for practicing skills, each topic is introduced by a lesson taught to the entire class using a storybook selected for social-emotional concepts and related vocabulary appropriate to the grade level. In the first small-group lesson per topic, the teacher uses a Dialogic Reading approach to promote discussion about the SEL concept. In the second small-group lesson, teachers support generalization by encouraging targeted students to apply social-emotional concepts and skills in problem-solving situations and practice using the selected vocabulary. The SELF curriculum includes a total of 51 K and 53 1st grade lessons.