CASEL competencies are the foundation of academic success, educational equity, relationship building, and professional growth. They are the key areas of the wider concept of social-emotional learning which revolves around personal development. In modern schools and academic settings, training these competencies and relevant soft skills can be as important as teaching subject-specific class material. The good news is technology can help develop these skills, bringing faster and more robust results.
Keep reading to learn more about CASEL 5 competencies and technology’s role in developing them or take a look at ViewSonic Education Solutions.
CASEL competencies are the five broad and interrelated areas that form the foundation of social-emotional learning. This is a field that schools are increasingly focused on as they also grapple with teaching students about how to gain subject-specific knowledge and pass exams, developing them into competent, resilient, conscientious, and responsible individuals with the necessary skills to succeed.
The CASEL 5 framework has been designed to assist schools and educators with this task. More specifically, it can play a role in helping to teach the relevant competencies and soft skills to students while also laying the foundations to create more equitable learning environments which deliver fairness for all students.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the CASEL competencies, explore why they are so important for students, teachers, and schools, then examine their role in creating equitable learning environments. We’ll also delve into the support that technology can bring in helping students to develop these soft skills.
Understanding the Value of Soft Skills and Competencies
Soft skills can be described as non-technical skills which are applicable to almost all situations. They can be considered competencies, including digital literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving, written communication, teamwork, leadership, or public speaking.
Indeed, there’s a strong argument that schools and teachers need to be equally concerned with the development of soft skills and competencies as they are with teaching specific information related to their subject(s) and the curriculum. After all, the soft skills that students develop will go a long way toward determining how successful they are in navigating their time in education, employment, and in their social relationships.
The development of soft skills and competencies is related to the idea of social-emotional learning. According to the Committee for Children, this concept can be defined as “the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.”
What Are CASEL Competencies and Why Are They Important?
Before going any further, it’s worth briefly exploring what CASEL competencies are, why they are so crucial within schools, and how they can serve both students and teachers.
Exploring CASEL Competencies
CASEL competencies are the five main skill sets that are outlined in the CASEL 5 framework, created by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The framework provides the structure for successful social-emotional learning.
More specifically, the CASEL competencies can be summarized as follows:
- Self-Awareness: Identifying one’s own emotions and needs, while developing a desire for personal growth
- Self-Management: Controlling one’s emotions and behaviors in different situations, goal-setting
- Social Awareness: Demonstrating empathy for others and understanding other people’s perspectives
- Relationship Skills: Building communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution abilities
- Responsible Decision-Making: Intelligent decision-making, with keen consideration of consequences
For exploring the CASEL competencies in greater depth, including more complete definitions of each area and a more thorough examination of how they all connect to one another, take a look at our article What is Social-Emotional Learning and Why is it Important?
The Importance of CASEL 5
The CASEL competencies serve as a great starting point for educators looking to help students to develop the various skills, abilities, and personality traits that will set them up for lasting success. Improving these competencies won’t just be helpful at school, but can be further used in students’ personal lives and future workplaces, too.
Within each of the five competencies, there are a number of smaller skills that can be developed. For instance, effective communication and conflict resolution are relationship skills. The competency of self-management, meanwhile, consists of developing, target setting and impulse control, for example.
CASEL competencies can be used by teachers and schools as a foundation to help students to grow into well-rounded individuals. One of the most significant aspects of the CASEL 5 framework is that the five competencies outlined can be taught, expanded upon, and reinforced at various points during childhood — and into adulthood, too.
CASEL Competencies and Equitable Learning Environments
A major benefit of focusing on CASEL competencies — and one that may be overlooked by educators — is its ability to contribute to the creation of equitable learning environments. This is because the CASEL framework can help schools establish the conditions that are required for the necessary changes to occur over time.
In particular, there are two major areas where teachers with an awareness of the CASEL framework can assist students to develop their own CASEL competencies and positively influence them.
Empathy in the Classroom
Self-awareness is one of the key skills a student must develop in today’s world. By being able to understand the differences between various experiences and identify one’s own emotions and reactions in regard to those specific situations, students can improve their problem-solving skills, embracing a broader and more responsible place in the world.
Students who are equipped with self-awareness are also apt to have higher empathy levels. They are more likely to examine their own behaviors and behavioral patterns — as well as notice them among their peers — and take corrective action when necessary. This could include speaking out when witnessing discrimination or examining and transforming their own biases as part of self-management. At the same time, CASEL competencies are not designed to promote conformity but instead to nourish understanding and encourage open-mindedness.
Digital accessibility is concerned with providing equal access to digital media to all students, regardless of any disabilities or impairments they may have. The social awareness component of the CASEL framework can help students to display empathy and try to see things from other people’s perspectives.
This heightened awareness can be valuable for the promotion of digital accessibility in schools and within individual classrooms since students can highlight issues that their peers may experience, and take steps to assist students who may require an extra level of support to successfully utilize technology and engage with digital media.
Schools that adhere to this framework are also more likely to be aware of issues surrounding digital accessibility and, where possible, can invest in equipment to optimize digital content so students — regardless of physical or cognitive impairments students — can understand and engage with the subject at hand.
The Role of Technology in Building CASEL Competencies
The core CASEL framework and the five main competency areas can help students to develop more specific skills along the way. Education technology, or EdTech, can also assist with this development of skills. In the sections below, we will explore some of the specific skills that can be developed from a combination of EdTech and the CASEL 5 framework itself.
As a skill, problem solving has connections with several CASEL competencies, including responsible decision-making and self-management. However, many examples of problem solving also involve working with other people and trying to come to a consensus, even in the face of conflicting opinions. This then ties in with relationship skills too.
In terms of education technology that can assist with this, interactive whiteboards can help students, teachers, groups, and whole classes to collaboratively work through ideas, organize thoughts, understand the nature of the problem, and form a unified conclusion on the best course of action to resolve that problem.
The relationship skills component of the CASEL framework places a strong emphasis on effective communication with other people, but this is just one part of the relevant CASEL competency. Communication also involves managing emotions and understanding the consequences of words, which brings both self-management and responsible decision-making into the equation too.
Communication skills can be aided by a wide range of EdTech. Computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones all provide digital communication tools, while digital whiteboards allow for effective written communication, even in collaborative situations. Furthermore, screen readers, computer monitors, and a wide variety of software solutions can all assist people living with vision or hearing impairments to communicate effectively in a digital world.
Cooperation and collaboration form the basis of the relationship-building component of the CASEL framework, with students needing to develop the relevant skills to work together with other people and resolve any conflicts that may arise along the way. However, social awareness is another vital competency here, as good teamwork requires an ability to understand other perspectives and set shared, mutually beneficial goals or objectives. Along the way, students will need to develop leadership skills, as well as the ability to delegate tasks to others at the right time rather than simply assuming or overtaking full control over a joint project.
Computers, smartphones, tablets, digital whiteboards, and visual learning platforms, like myViewBoard, can assist both the students who are participating in collaborative activities, as well as teachers who are overseeing collaboration-based lessons that develop teamwork skills.
For teachers to effectively teach CASEL competencies – or develop these competencies within a group of students – it’s vital to understand the emotions students are experiencing at any given time. Seeing how different moods may impact the learning experience, educators can tailor their approach to meet the needs of that moment. Of course, relying on their own capabilities alone requires great empathy, perception, intuition, and a certain amount of guesswork.
The framework can be used to adapt lessons — based on how students are reacting — and can also help teachers to identify whether there are common emotional responses within the room that may require further attention. This is when technology comes into play and solutions like myViewBoard Sens can greatly help and reduce the guesswork part.
All of this is achieved without the device storing any images of students, avoiding any potential issues linked to student privacy.
CASEL competencies are five broad interrelated areas that form the foundation for social-emotional learning. Using the CASEL 5 framework, schools and other academic institutions can help students to develop the kind of soft skills and personality traits that will set them up for success in school and beyond. So instead of simply teaching students how to pass exams, it offers them skills that will serve them well into adulthood.
By using the CASEL framework, educators can create more equitable learning environments. The development of these competencies can be further aided when both students and their teachers make effective use of relevant education technology. This can include computers, smartphones, tablets, digital whiteboards, screen readers, and even facial expression recognition technology.
If you found this read inspiring, you might also enjoy What is Digital Accessibility? (And Why It’s Crucial at Schools) or discover Viewsonic’s EdTech solutions.