November 2019
Link Lines
William & Mary Training & Technical Assistance Center
By Kara McCulloch, M.S., Nick Kier, M.A.T., and Daria Lorio-Barsten, M.Ed.
Using Social-Emotional Learning to Cultivate the 5Cs in the Classroom
According to the Profile of a Virginia Graduate (Virginia Department of Education [VDOE], 2019), each student will become a life-ready individual through developing content knowledge, workplace skills, community engagement and civic responsibility, and career exploration. The 5Cs (critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship) serve as a foundation for ensuring that graduates possess the skills needed to become life ready. In order to foster and cultivate the 5Cs, students, in turn, utilize their social and emotional skills. Social emotional learning, therefore, lies at the core of the 5Cs.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) helps students to deal effectively with their daily tasks and challenges (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning [CASEL], 2017). To facilitate learning around SEL, CASEL developed a wheel of the SEL core competencies, along with a wide range of resources to support them. The CASEL core competencies, provided in the table below, include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible-decision making skills that directly support the development of the 5Cs. After all, one cannot collaborate effectively without recognizing strengths, perspective taking, or respecting others, for example. 
Table 1

CASEL Core Competencies
(CASEL, 2017)
CASEL (2017) provides several specific examples of incorporating SEL into content instruction, which readers can access by following the links below. Each of these guides provides activities/lessons as well as a list of teacher behaviors that will support the development of the 5Cs.

When students have an opportunity to engage in these activities, they are also practicing many aspects of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate and the 5Cs. Students with self-awareness, strong self-management skills, and high levels of relationship awareness are more likely to be successful when C ommunicating and C ollaborating with others. Students with developed social awareness and decision-making skills are better equipped for C ritical Thinking and C itizenship tasks. The CASEL competencies, and the activities and lessons from the links above, directly influence:

  • Workplace Skills: Collaborating with coworkers and communicating with clients/customers requires self-awareness, self-management, and relationship skills.
  • Community Engagement and Civic Responsibility: In order to be responsible and engaged citizens in their communities, students (and adults) require social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
  • Career Exploration: All the CASEL competencies play a role in helping students explore and select potential careers that align with their interests and personalities.  
As you spend time considering how to enhance SEL within your classroom, it is also important to reflect on your personal practices as a teacher. Self-awareness and self-regulation are essential skills for teachers to maintain a calm and collaborative classroom community. In addition, ongoing practice and refinement of these skills will contribute to your overall health as part of your self-care routine. This video provides a strategy that you can use to maintain a calm body and mind when your classroom environment is feeling a little hectic. Once you have practiced this strategy, try to implement one of the activities embedded in the above lesson or explore the CASEL website for additional ideas.

The next issue of Link Lines will connect the Profile of a Virginia Graduate to inclusive leadership, and provide strategies and resources for how to lead an inclusive school that prepares students for adult life as contributing and engaged learners, workers, and citizens.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2017). Core SEL competencies .

Virginia Department of Education. (2018, June).  Profile of a Virginia graduate.  Retrieved from