Creating artwork during a SEAL LessonIt’s time to put the A in SEL!  Why?

You are now charged with the mission to bring SEL into your classroom!

In fact, EVERY single teacher I talk to not only knows what SEL is, but knows how much their students NEED development in their social-emotional development.

Well, if you have found this article, chances are you already know that the arts can have power in learning.  So, if you couple that with your understanding of the importance of SEL, then you are ready to learn about SEAL.

And you have come to the right place!

SEAL – Let’s get started…

SEAL or Social-Emotional Artistic Learning is the newest branch of arts integration that has come out of The Inspired Classroom.  Following the principles of true arts integration and the natural connections between arts and social-emotional learning, SEAL acts to fully integrate CASEL’s social-emotional learning competencies with the arts.

So, let’s put that A in SEL!

Learning these important skills through the arts and implementing them as a routine method in the classroom is extremely effective and beneficial to students, teachers and schools!  The arts are naturally individualistic as well as collaborative.  Artists of all skills and ages learn about themselves, others and the world around them.  This is done organically through the arts.  The creative process is a powerful vehicle to learn and practice these competencies.

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

SEL Competencies cited from

*SEL Competencies cited from

SEL is certainly the new buzz word in education. had done a wonderful job in defining social-emotional learning for educators through 5 competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.  Each of these competencies has a set of skills associated with them providing for a well-rounded and fully competent individual.

What are “the Arts”?

The arts encompass a large range of skills and techniques.  These include visual arts, music, drama, dance, writing, storytelling, poetry, digital media, cooking, building, poetry and many others.  For the most part, SEAL works with the four art forms that are included in the National Core Arts Standards: visual art, music, drama and dance, but certainly branch out to other art forms as well.

The most important part of “the arts” is that the artist, no matter the skill level, goes through the creative process.  This process encompasses all aspects of the 5 social-emotional competencies in a very natural way.  The artist plans, creates, refines, reflects and presents his or her work.

Why NOW and Why SEAL?

SEAL Social-Emotional Artistic LearningSocial-emotional learning is becoming more and more necessary in schools.  Students struggle with a variety of anxiety issues, varying degrees of trauma and social deficiencies.  We teachers are finding that it is hard to teach our content.  We are constantly working on diffusing conflicts, engaging busy bodies, and helping kids to focus.

In recent years, teachers and administrators have discovered the benefits of taking time to work explicitly on social-emotional competencies.  This helps students prepare for learning.  Brain research proves that in order to be at full learning capacity, students need to be calm and feel safe in their learning environment.

Working with yoga, mindfulness, growth-mindset and conflict resolution are a great way to teach students how to manage themselves and work with others in any learning environment.

SEAL, takes those same ideals and adds a level of engagement and creativity.  It integrates the power of artistic exploration and the creative process.

Examples of SEAL

Students love moving in a SEAL lesson!Yoga is coupled with the concepts of dance.  It brings together self-awareness and use of energy and motion.

Mindfulness is explored through visual art.  Students create pieces that help them to focus on their current state and work to manage their emotions.

Working with music can help students to build a growth mindset and relationships.  They can collaborate on compositions and work through mistakes.

Drama concepts become the vehicle to explore conflict resolution.  Students assume roles of others, walking in their shoes to build social-awareness and empathy.

The creative process runs throughout all competencies.  It helps students build their responsible decision making skills as they question and reflect on their work.

The arts naturally work with all social-emotional competencies!

The key to making SEAL work is being aware of these things:

  1. Truly Integrate the Arts:  Stay true to the principles of arts integration.  With SEAL, you are not just adding in an art form as an afterthought or side activity.  Instead, students are creating something real for the sake of the art form as a way to learn about, practice or develop an SEL competency.  Students are learning and practicing the art form alongside any other objectives you may have for your SEAL lesson.
  2. Explicit Teaching of SEL: Be sure you are discussing the objectives you have for the social-emotional competency.  As you practice mindfulness, ask questions and prompt discussions through the students’ artwork that allow them to acknowledge their self-awareness.  In other words, help your students to understand what it is they are learning about themselves and others as they create, explore or appreciate art.  Make the social-emotional learning explicit and intentional!
  3. Focus on Reflection: The key to success with SEAL is allowing students the time to reflect on their work and on their process.  This is where students can find their moments of clarity and start to develop new behaviors.

SEAL is not a program.

Unlike other methods of teaching SEL, SEAL is not a program you follow.  There is no book or binder, no set of cards or videos.  Instead, the TEACHER is trained.  YOU learn the methods and integrations of SEAL.  Then put them into practice in your own classroom in a way that fits your classroom’s atmosphere, your teaching style and most importantly, your students’ needs.  SEAL becomes part of what you do!

The arts have always been a vehicle for teaching this “hidden” curriculum.  It is something that is naturally part of art making, performing, responding and connecting.  Now, with SEAL, we can effectively have students learn about and practice these social-emotional skills that they need so much.  Learn more at!

Are you ready to check it out further?  Then fill out this form and get your free SEAL Starter Kit!

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