Key takeaways

  • Well-developed social emotional skills can help students manage their emotions better and therefore improve classroom behavior.
  • Decreased disciplinary problems can reduce the risk of teacher stress and burnout.

Academic achievement is often viewed as the sole indicator of success in education. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that social emotional skills are just as important, if not more so, in determining a student's success in school and in life. There are even many published articles and interviews with top employers that corroborate this. What is less discussed, however, is that social emotional skills can also have a positive impact on teachers and help improve teacher retention rates.

Social emotional skills refer to a range of abilities that enable individuals to manage their emotions, communicate effectively, and develop positive relationships with others. Examples of such skills include self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social awareness. While these skills are vital for academic success (since they help students navigate the complexities of social interaction, manage stress, and focus on learning), they are also crucial for success in the workforce. This is because employers are increasingly prioritizing these skills, often called ‘soft skills’, over technical skills.

Learn: The Basics of Social Emotional Learning

Satchel Pulse blog - how students social emotional skills impact teacher retentionThe benefits of social emotional skills

Research has shown that students who have well-developed social emotional skills are more likely to experience positive academic outcomes. For example, a study conducted by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) found that students who participated in social emotional learning (SEL) programs achieved an 11 percentile-point gain in academic achievement compared to those who did not participate in such programs. Additionally, students with strong social emotional skills tend to have fewer disciplinary problems, lower absenteeism rates, and higher graduation rates.

However, the benefits of social emotional skills are not limited to students alone. Teachers also benefit when students with strong social emotional skills. When students have well-developed social emotional skills, they are better equipped to manage their behavior and emotions, which can reduce stress and improve classroom management. This, in turn, can help teachers feel more effective in their roles and less likely to experience burnout.

Satchel Pulse blogThe impact on teacher retention rates

Teacher retention rates are a growing concern in education. In the United States, for example, up to 50% of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years, with burnout being a significant factor. Often manifesting as feelings of depersonalization, cynicism, and a reduced sense of accomplishment, burnout can be caused by a variety of factors, including heavy workloads, poor working conditions, and challenging student behavior.

Read: Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Here's how to improve your staff retention rate.

Improved classroom behavior

By improving social emotional skills in students and therefore decreasing disciplinary problems, teachers can create a better classroom environment. In turn, a more manageable and positive classroom environment could help reduce the impact of stress and burnout that teachers often face. When students are better equipped to manage their behavior and emotions, teachers can feel more in control of their classroom and enjoy an improved sense of efficacy.

Improved engagement and teacher enjoyment

Students with strong social emotional skills tend to be more engaged and motivated in their learning, which can be highly rewarding for teachers. Teachers who feel that their students are invested in their own learning are more likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction. This, in turn, can help mitigate the effects of stress and burnout and even encourage teachers to want to stay in the profession!

Improved school culture

When students have strong social emotional skills, they tend to have better relationships with their peers and teachers. This can create a more positive school culture, where students and teachers feel valued, engaged, and supported. A positive school culture can be highly motivating for teachers, who are more likely to feel a sense of community and purpose when working in classrooms and staff rooms that make them feel good.

Social emotional skills are crucial for student success, but they also have important implications for teacher retention rates. Teachers who work with students who have well-developed social emotional skills are more likely to feel effective in their roles and less likely to experience burnout. By creating a positive and supportive classroom environment, teachers can help their students develop social emotional skills, which can have benefits for both students and teachers.


Author: Fern Dinsdale

Posted: 03 May 2023

Estimated time to read: 4 mins

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