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Student and Family Support (SFS)

Social and Emotional Learning in Math

Attending to the development of students' social and emotional skills can help students, schools, and districts meet the expectations for teaching and learning that are described in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.

The content standards and mathematical practice standards in the recently adopted 2017 MA Curriculum Framework for Mathematics describe a vision of what it means to be a mathematically proficient person in this century. The progression of standards in the framework builds a strong foundation for students to apply their understandings and skills to solve real world problems. Students who meet the expectations of the mathematics content and practice standards not only develop conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and problem solving ability but when coupled with a rich and supportive learning environment they can also develop the ability to persevere, collaborate with others and to reason, prove, justify, and communicate with precision. The 2017 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics includes the following Guiding Principle to support Social and Emotional Learning:

Guiding Principle 8

Social and emotional learning can increase academic achievement, improve attitudes and behaviors, and reduce emotional distress. Students should practice self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills, by, for example: collaborating and learning from others and showing respect for others' ideas; applying the mathematics they know to make responsible decisions to solve problems, engaging and persisting in solving challenging problems; and learning that with effort, they can continue to improve and be successful.

In the table below are examples of intersections between the Standards for Mathematical Practice and the SEL learning Competencies1.

Mathematical Practice Standards (SMP)Social and Emotional Learning Competencies
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one's emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one's strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism. (SMP 1,4,7,8)
Self-management: The ability to regulate one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals. (SMP 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. (SMP 1,3,6)
Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed. (SMP 3)
Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the wellbeing of self and others.

SEL Resources:

1 Competencies from CASEL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional learning, Social and Emotional Learning Core competencies.

Last Updated: October 6, 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

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