The Emotional Intelligence Livestream #29


Why SEL Matters More Now… and How?

During the pandemic, social emotional learning has become more important – and more difficult

Education is stressed. Teachers, administrators, kids, parents are struggling – so why should we focus on social emotional learning (SEL) at a time like this? And for remote or hybrid teaching, is it even possible? 

The “Covid-Pressure-Cooker” is exposing the cracks in education systems worldwide. A new Axios survey found 59% of US teens felt that online school is worse for them (half said they learn better in person) — but even so,  70% of teens said they didn’t trust that schools could open safely… and that’s even higher for Black and Latinx teens. Against this backdrop, it may be even more urgent — and much harder — to build the social emotional conditions that make learning work well.

This Six Seconds’ weekly EQ Livestream will feature one of the early pioneers who helped invent the field of social emotional learning, and educators who are on the front lines of the challenge. We’ll talk about why children and adults need SEL, what it really means, how SEL fits with racial equity, and if — how — SEL can work in Covidized education.


For decades, we’ve been advocating that social emotional learning (SEL) is the foundation for a great place to learn. In the pandemic, two truths have become more evident:

  1. SEL is essential for students, educators, and families. The academic part of learning just does not work well without a strong social emotional foundation.
  2. It’s incredibly difficult to do this well at the best of times — and distance, blended, or covidized school is NOT the best of times.

So – how do we move forward?


Anabel Jensen is an “educator’s educator” who helped create the field of social emotional learning. She is one of the few school principals in the US to win two Federal Blue Ribbons for excellence in education, in part because of the robust social emotional learning process she helped pioneer. Anabel is cofounder and President of Six Seconds, cofounder of Synapse School, and a retired professor of education who trained over 10,000 teachers.

Ashley Tucker is a Dean and special education teacher at a special education high school in Brooklyn in New York City. She serves as the social and emotional wellness advisor of her school and refers to herself as an SEL enthusiast. She specializes in facilitating relationship building experiences for staff/students and providing explicit SEL instruction for a diverse range of learners. Ashley is particularly interested in implementing SEL practices in ways that are culturally-affirming. Ashley is currently working on her Masters of Educational Leadership and Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University and produces content for her personal project Teachers Pay Black Teachers when she can. 

Cherilyn Leet is the Associate Director of Education for Six Seconds’ global team. With over a decade of classroom experience, Cherilyn’s goal is to integrate social emotional learning into all levels of education. Cherilyn develops curriculum, assessments, and workshops about emotional intelligence competencies in her role at Six Seconds. An active member of the EQ community in North America, Cherilyn is the recipient of a Fulbright grant, during which she taught students at the university level and developed training programs for faculty in Colombia. Cherilyn holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction (Gifted and Talented) from Arizona State University.

Norma C Garcés is a Bush Fellow and former Executive Director at El Colegio Charter School; in her tenure the school was recognized as a model for Latinx and many first-generation-to-college students who were not served by traditional education. As the executive director of El Colegio High School, Norma’s unrelenting vision has been to ensure the brightest future for every student who walks through the door.  She has created a culturally-conscious, resilience-based environment where for the past five years, 100% of all graduating seniors have been accepted into at least one post-secondary institution.  The triennial MN Student Survey found El Colegio to be the #1 school in the state for making education relevant to Latinx youth, as well as one of the safest schools to attend. Norma is a talented bilingual, bicultural educator and accomplished leader with a long history working with youth of color and their families going back over 28 years.  

In 2019, Norma was selected to join the prestigious Bush Foundation Fellowship, in which members are selected based on their potential to make an even bigger impact in their community.  Norma is currently pursuing her MEd at SPA, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Joshua Freedman, cofounder and CEO, The Six Seconds EQ Network, working since 1997 toward a world with more emotional intelligence (EQ). Josh’s goal is for everyone to make friends with their feelings… and to use emotions to step toward a future that works for all of us. He is a Master Certified Coach and author of the international best-seller, At the Heart of Leadership, and five other books on EQ in business, for families, and in schools. Six Seconds’ tools & methods are used in over 200 countries… from developing business leaders at Siemens in LatAm ( to growing courageous leaders from the future of the planet in Kenya ( to partnering with UNICEF to bring EQ to millions of children for free (… we’re working toward a billion people practicing EQ.

Key Questions:

  • What’s one aspect of education that’s become more important to you as a result of Covid-19?
  • What’s an aspect of education that the teachers you work with are struggling with this year? 
  • How has the pandemic affected the need for SEL?
  • In the last few months, we’ve had many conversations on this livestream about SEL and racism — how does the BLM uprising affect your understanding of SEL?
  • What’s a strategy you see working for SEL in covidized education?
  • Do you have a line from a song or poem that captures the SEL challenges of 2020? 
  • Where and how does SEL play a role in navigating high-stress conversations among school leaders and their faculty? And between parents and administrators?
  • Many schools exist within a state of purgatory: they have opened in person until an outbreak will send them back online, they are in a holding pattern online until the state leaders or health officials say go, or they’ve shifted school calendars in an attempt to predict or outsmart the virus. What does uncertainty do for children and what are the SEL messages for children in limbo?
  • For those in countries where school is being broadcast through radio, on TV, and via WhatsApp messages, what can SEL look like and sound like in such circumstances?
  • What’s one wish you’d make to support students, teachers, and families in this Fall 2020 time?

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