Ways of Being: A Model for Social & Emotional Learning

By Dale Blyth, Brandi Olson & Kate Walker from University of Minnesota | Extension

The 2013-2016 cycle of the Minnesota 4-H Foundation’s Howland Family Endowment for Youth Leadership Development is dedicated to understanding social and emotional learning and its contribution to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps. This series of issue briefs, funded in part by Youthprise, is designed to help people understand, connect and champion social and emotional learning in a variety of settings and from a variety of perspectives.

Ways of Being: A Model for Social & Emotional Learning

At the heart of social and emotional learning there is always a learner—a young person who is figuring out how to live life in a complex world. Young people in the 21st century must learn to balance and navigate multiple social dynamics, societal demands, and a myriad of choices about their futures (Larson & Tran, 2014). While researchers, funders, schools and community leaders work to understand skills, outcomes and assessments to describe social and emotional learning, practitioners who work with and on behalf of youth have a real-time need to understand the social and emotional learner that exists in every single young person they work with.

In order to make sense of the emerging field of social and emotional learning (SEL), we developed the Ways of Being model (Figure 1) to paint a picture of the whole social and emotional learner—describing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors that exist within a person who is socially and emotionally competent. The model describes dynamic, interactive ways of being that exist in three layers—identity, awareness, and navigation and three dimensions—ways of feeling, ways of relating to others, and ways of doing.

This brief will first explain how the Ways of Being model fits together, and then describe the individual layers and areas that make up the model while offering vignettes from youth who exemplify the social and emotional learning process.

View the full document and corresponding resources here

University of Minnesota | Extension

Minnesota 4-H Foundation Howland Family Endowment for Youth Leadership Development

Further Reading


Why Social Emotional Learning is Essential for Students

From Roger Weissberg, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

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