Affective Elements

Social-emotional learning (SEL) encompasses a range of affective elements that are crucial for student development. These competencies help students navigate challenges and enhance their overall well-being. By integrating SEL into education, schools address the affective aspects of students' lives and provide them with tools to manage emotions, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Additionally, bullying prevention, crisis prevention, and suicide prevention strategies all involve understanding and addressing students' affective needs and encouraging the promotion of a safe and supportive learning environment. By prioritizing affective elements, schools can foster a holistic approach to education that supports students' physical, emotional, social, and academic growth.

Social Emotional Learning 

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is an educational method that aims to develop students' self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills necessary for school, work, and life success. SEL equips students with the tools to manage and express their emotions appropriately. Students who exhibit strong social-emotional skills show greater resiliency when faced with future challenges; therefore, SEL benefits students academically, professionally, and socially (Committee for Children, 2023). Schools with SEL-integrated curricula noticed reduced physical aggression, bullying, and dropout rates among their student body (Espelage et al., 2015). SEL also contributes to increased student attendance, academic achievements, and positive perceptions of school (Durlak et al., 2017).

Social-Emotional Learning: What Is SEL and Why SEL Matters

Video Description: The creators of Second Step show what social emotional skills are and the important role they play throughout our lives. | Video Length: [2:53]

Figure 1

SEL Core Competencies


Five Core Competencies of SEL

SEL incorporates five core competencies applicable in classrooms, schools, homes, and communities (CASEL, 2023). These five core competencies include: 

  • Self-Awareness: the ability to recognize the impact of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
  • Self-Management: the ability to regulate emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations
  • Social Awareness: the development of perspective about, and empathy for, others; an understanding of social and ethical norms of behavior
  • Relationship Skills: the ability to establish and maintain healthy connections with others
  • Responsible Decision-Making: the ability to make possible constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions

Culturally Responsive SEL

Students who experience racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination, economic disparities, or traumatic incidents often develop unique coping mechanisms that may not always align with social norms. When implementing SEL, teachers must consider students' cultural, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and economic backgrounds. In doing so, they acknowledge and appreciate their students' cultural assets and inherent strengths. Students feel a greater sense of respect and value when their identity is recognized and are, therefore, more likely to engage in SEL meaningfully.

Resources for Incorporating SEL



Resources on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Student and Educator Mental Health

Resources developed by the NEA to offer strategies for educators to manage stress, practice self-care, and build SEL skills with their students

95 Free Social Emotional Learning Activities

Free SEL lessons, activities, and worksheets for educators to use in a classroom or small group setting.

KSDE Social, Emotional, and Character Development Standards and Learning Resources

SEL information for Kansas schools to use as a framework for learning


Bullying Prevention

The National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) defines bullying as "an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical, or social behavior that intends to cause physical, social, or psychological harm." (2023). Bullying negatively impacts students' ability to learn at school because it threatens their physical and emotional safety. Research indicates that responding quickly and consistently is the best way to address bullying (, 2023).  

Classroom Bullying Prevention

School administrators and educators can incorporate various bullying-preventative measures to increase the safety of their schools. Educators can incorporate bullying prevention topics into their lessons and activities to help engage students in the initiative. A list of activities to teach students about bullying can be found here.

School-Wide Bullying Prevention

School staff contributes to bullying prevention and intervention by modeling respectful relationships and developing a positive school climate. Consistent training on bullying prevention maintains staff's awareness of and active response to bullying. School-wide bullying prevention strategies establish consistent expectations and guidelines for appropriate behaviors among students. In 2017, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) examined various evidence-based bullying prevention programs; they stated, "By teaching and reinforcing these specific behaviors and peer interactions, staff works to increase positive and prosocial interactions while providing less social attention for negative or inappropriate behaviors." The CDE also released a comprehensive guide for schools to use when selecting a bully prevention program. A comprehensive guide for selecting a bully prevention program can be found herewhich analyzes the cost and training requirements among four evidence-based programs. 

Bullying Prevention and SEL

Research conducted by Smith & Low (2013) suggests SEL can be an effective element in bullying prevention strategies. The skills taught in SEL encourage prosocial peer interaction and interpersonal problem-solving, which provide students with effective and positive strategies for coping with peer challenges. Additionally, through SEL, students acquire social competence, which helps them develop friendships. Smith & Low claimed that increased social support reduces students’ vulnerability to bullying and lessens the negative impact of bullying on their psychosocial development.

Resources for Incorporating Bullying Prevention 



Bullying Support & Advice: For Schools

Step-by-step guide for what to do when a student reports bullying; additional resources related to bullying in schools

Understanding Bullying

Resources and education on bullying research, signs, and types of bullying, and preventative actions

Building a Safe Environment

Information on managing a safe and supportive classroom environment to help mitigate bullying

Let’s Talk About Bullying | TEDx Talks

Nicholas Carlisle, founder of No Bully, shows how schools are engaging kindness and compassion to end over 90% of bullying incidents

10 Ways to Help Reduce Bullying in Schools

List of 10 tips for educators to utilizing in the classrooms to help reduce bullying

Bullying Flowchart

Describes the four elements of bullying ad provides a list of resources for students, schools, and parents

Crisis Prevention

school-based crisis is any traumatic event that disrupts students' and staff's coping and problem-solving abilities (National Education Association, 2018). A crisis refers to a situation that has escalated to a critical phase with the potential for undesirable consequences. Various crises include violent incidents, large-scale fights, student or staff suicide or death, terrorism, or hostage situations. On the other hand, an emergency denotes an urgent situation that demands immediate action. Emergencies include school shootings, natural disasters, medical emergencies, chemical spills, and student disappearances (National Education Association, 2018, pp. 15). Parents and students trust teachers and administrators to protect them while at school. Consequently, school staff must be well-prepared to handle crises and emergencies before, during, and after the event.

Figure 2

Four Phases of School Emergency Management


Four Concepts of School Crisis Preparedness

The four concepts of school crisis preparedness include:

  1. Prevention: actions aimed to avoid the occurrence of incidents or lessen the harm done by unavoidable incidents
  2. Prepare: continual planning, practicing, and evaluating responses to incidents
  3. Response: executing prepared plans while minimizing harm to people and property during an incident
  4. Recovery: restoring the learning and teaching environment after an incident; evaluating the incident and response to revise and improve school safety and emergency response

Preventative Strategies

Crisis prevention holds significant importance within any comprehensive school crisis plan. It is crucial to emphasize and prioritize strategies that aim to prevent crises from occurring in the first place. To achieve this, open communication and spreading knowledge about prevention plans are essential throughout the school community. All stakeholders, including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and support staff, can actively participate and collaborate to create a safe and secure learning environment through a collective effort. Schools can implement several effective strategies to establish a comprehensive crisis prevention plan:

  • Establishing a positive school climate
  • Implementing behavioral support systems
  • Developing early warning systems
  • Providing mental health support
  • Conducting safety assessments
  • Promoting social-emotional learning (SEL)
  • Creating a comprehensive school Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)
  • Developing a district-level and school-based crisis response and emergency planning team

By implementing these preventive strategies and engaging the school community in proactive planning, schools can significantly reduce the risk of crises and promote a safe and nurturing environment for all students.

Resources for Incorporating Crisis Prevention 



Kansas Emergency Management Resources

List of Kansas contacts and reports related to school readiness and emergency management

Kansas Crisis & Emergency Mandates

List of Kansas legislature related to disaster relief or crisis prevention programs

Sample School Emergency Operations Plan


Document of a sample school EOP for template and training purposes

American Red Cross Ready Rating Program

A free, self-guided program designed to help schools become better prepared for emergencies

National Education Association (NEA) School Crisis Guide

Step-by-step outline of what to do before, during, and after any school crisis or disaster

U.S. Department of Education Practical Information on Crisis Planning

A comprehensive guide for schools and communities to utilize when developing crisis readiness plans

School Safety and Crisis Resources

List of linked educational resources on implementing school safety policies supporting students during crisis at district and school levels

Systems-Level Prevention Resources



List of linked resources to help schools and districts implement comprehensive and culturally competent school safety policies

Guidelines for Schools Conducting Crisis Exercises & Drills

A comprehensive guide to help schools understand best practices in the development and implementation of various safety exercises and drills


Suicide Prevention

Suicide, the leading cause of death among school-aged youth (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023), often exhibits warning signs that educators should never take lightly or promise to keep secret. Students contemplating suicide may communicate their distress through direct or indirect statements. They may also leave suicide notes or plans, make final arrangements such as giving away prized possessions, display a preoccupation with death, or undergo changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts, or feelings.

To effectively address these warning signs and provide support, educators should receive training on recognizing signs of suicidal thoughts and engaging with at-risk students (Marshall & Moutier, 2019). Additionally, school districts and educators must identify student populations at elevated risk for suicidal behavior. 

Preventative Strategies

To establish effective preventative procedures, schools can implement the following:

  • District Policy Implementation: establish a suicide prevention task force to advise district administration and the school board on suicide prevention activities and policy implementation
  • Staff Professional Development: provide training for staff on risk factors, warning signs, protective factors, response procedures, referrals, postventions, and available resources concerning suicide prevention
  • Youth Suicide Prevention Programming: integrate suicide prevention curriculum from kindergarten to twelfth grade, promoting safe and healthy choices, teaching coping strategies, recognizing risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns, providing suicide resources and referrals, and building resilience among students.

By implementing these cohesive measures, schools can take significant steps towards creating a supportive and proactive environment for preventing youth suicide and promoting mental well-being among students.

Resources for Incorporating Suicide Prevention 



Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention

Outlines model policies and best practices for school districts to follow to protect the health and safety of all students

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

List of suicide prevention resources and action plans for teachers and school personnel

The Trevor Project Resource Center


Articles, resources, and guides related to LGBTQ+ youth suicide

K-12 Suicide Prevention Training & Resources

Postvention training and printable available for teachers to utilize after a suicide attempt or death

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention

A list of AFSP programs that can be incorporated into school suicide prevention plans

Postvention Action Plan for School Staff

Detailed action plan for school staff to incorporate after a suicide attempt or death

Preventing Youth Suicide

Facts, tips, and resources relevant to preventing youth suicide

Nebraska Department of Education Suicide Prevention Training Resources

Detailed list of suicide prevention resources for parents, teachers, staff, and school districts



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Facts about suicide. Retrieved from

Colorado Department of Education. (2017). Guidance for selecting an evidence-based bullying prevention program. Retrieved from

Committee for Children, (2023). What is social-emotional learning? [Webpage]. Retrieved from

Espelage, D. L., Polanin, J. R., & Rose, C. A. (2015). Social-emotional learning program to reduce bullying, fighting, and victimization among middle school students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 36(5), 1-13.

Durlak, A. J., Oberle, E., Taylor, R. D., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting positive youth development through school-based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta-analysis of follow-up effects. Child Development, 88(4), 1156-1171. Retrieved from

Marshall, D. S. & Moutier, C. (2019). Model school policy: Suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. The Trevor Project. Retrieved from

National Centre Against Bullying. (2023). Definition of Bullying. Retrieved from

National Education Association. (2018). NEA School Crisis Guide. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2019). Suicide. Retrieved from

SEL Core Competencies [Digital Image]. Uplift Education. Retrieved from

Smith, B. H., & Low, S. (2013). The role of social-emotional learning in bullying prevention efforts. Theory Into Practice, 52(4), 280–287. doi:10.1080/00405841.2013.829731 (2023). Bullying Prevention at School. Retrieved from

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