While tracking the academic progress of students is, of course, one of the most important parts of being a teacher, it is easy to overlook other aspects of their development.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) skills are fundamental to a person’s ability to navigate the world and get on with their peers. In this way, it important that young people develop these skills in tandem with their academic learning.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (or CASEL), there are five fundamental competencies children need to develop to grow into high-functioning, empathetic and ethically-minded adults. These include social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, self-awareness, and responsible decision-making.

As a teacher, it is vital that you teach your students about these competencies and assess the development of their individual SEL skills. Remember that even the most academically gifted students can fall behind when it comes to social skills and their ability to connect with others.

If you need a little guidance about how to assess your students’ SEL competencies, take a look at the following tips:

Assessing social awareness

Social awareness involves the ability to empathize with other people, particularly those from different backgrounds, as well as the ability to comprehend a variety of ethical and social norms. To gauge how empathetic your students are, you could try getting them involved in role-play assessments to see how well they navigate difficult social situations.

Start by pairing students up and asking them to role-play an argument. Ask each student to explain their viewpoint to their partner, then get them to switch and take on the other’s perspective. If the student is able to see both sides of the story fairly easily and naturally, then their social awareness skills are likely to be strong.

Assessing self-management

Self-management is the ability to regulate one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors so that they are appropriate for certain situations. This means controlling one’s impulses and managing stress. To assess students’ self-management skills, ask them to think of a situation in which they wish they had acted differently.

From there, they can set goals for how they will go about dealing with challenging situations in the future. If they successfully attain one of these goals, they can push themselves with new goals. If a student has difficulty meeting their goals, then you can try giving them extra support by speaking to them one-on-one and finding out if there is anything hindering their progress.

Assessing relationship skills

This is perhaps one of the easiest SEL skills to assess, as you can simply check how well students get on with their peers during recess. If a student is able to nurture healthy relationships with others through clear communication, cooperation, attentive listening, and conflict management, then you can consider their relationship skills to be very strong.

If, however, a child finds it difficult to make friends, get on with others, or resist social pressures, then they may need to work on this area. If you’d like a little more info on helping children that have trouble making friends, check out this helpful article.

Assessing self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s own thoughts and emotions, as well as those of others. To assess how self-aware your students are, try getting them to write (or draw pictures) about how they are feeling when entering the classroom. The older the student, the better they will be able to reflect on why they are feeling a certain way. Collect the results and review them privately to see how well your students can reflect on their own feelings and to see whether there are any underlying emotional issues they need to address.

Assessing responsible decision-making

Responsible decision-making means adhering to certain ethical standards and social norms in order to look after one’s own well-being and those of others.

To assess how competent your students are at making responsible decisions, get them to write fiction about a challenging social situation. This could include, for example, a situation in which a character’s friends are bullying a vulnerable student. Ask them to write a story about how the character should act and use the results as an assessment tool.