The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in CTE

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By Sydney Snider, iCEV CTE Curriculum Executive

As education continues to evolve, social-emotional learning (SEL) is an important element within Career & Technical Education (CTE). Laying the foundation of SEL within CTE has positive, long-term benefits for learners. Studies show those who can demonstrate social and emotional awareness within their academics and career tech programming are better equipped to succeed in the workforce. Strong SEL skills can help employees handle stress, conflict management and challenging situations within the workforce. 

 As SEL becomes more popular, educators often wonder what SEL is, why it is so important to incorporate and how to fit it into the educational space. SEL is the development of skills necessary for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships and responsible decision-making. These abilities help learners become successful in their careers, establish healthy relationships and positively impact their community. It is often assumed individuals develop SEL competencies on their own, but it is important to incorporate these concepts into curriculum to help learners develop social and emotional skills, whether learners are in k-12 education, higher education or adult education. This is especially important for special population learners.  

Why is SEL important? 

By implementing SEL strategies into learners’ everyday learning environments, educators have noticed improvements in school culture, student behavior and academic success. Previous research has shown learners who are taught SEL from an early age are more likely to graduate high school, earn a higher income and have fewer disciplinary incidents. 

The mission of Career & Technical Education (CTE) is to equip learners with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful upon entering the workforce. By teaching learners SEL concepts within CTE, educators are preparing learners to be successful despite the career they choose. SEL skills learned, such as decision making, conflict management and taking risks, are all skills employers look for when hiring. 

Where does SEL fit into CTE?  

SEL isn’t limited to one specific lesson, instead, it is recommended for teachers to incorporate SEL skills throughout the day in all classes. SEL can be incorporated into the classroom as expensively as outlined by the school district or the educator. 

Educators can choose to integrate SEL within lessons throughout the semester or dedicate a whole unit to learning the concepts. Examples of incorporating SEL include intentionally grouping learners, reflection questions or establishing classroom roles for learners. Identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses and evaluating them throughout the school year can help educators measure SEL concepts.

The evolution of SEL will continue as technology changes in education and learners are surrounded by interactive technologies. Staying up-to-date on the trends of SEL presents challenges to educators. To capitalize on new opportunities, educators often rely on curriculum and resources to use in their classrooms. 

iCEV, the nation’s leading creator of CTE curriculum and resources, places a large emphasis on SEL. Through projects, activities and exercises, iCEV equips teachers to incorporate SEL instruction within their day-to-day lessons. iCEV recently launched an SEL toolkit to provide strategies and tools for incorporating SEL strategies in SEL. To learn more about iCEV and receive access to the toolkit, visit