Social and emotional learning in Colombian schools : assessing teachers' knowledge and practices
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Universal school-based (USB) Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs are designed to promote the development of intra- and inter-personal competencies in a school setting, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (Cipriano et al., 2021; Hoffman, 2009). Teachers' SEL knowledge, practices, and attitudes play a vital role in the success of SEL interventions because they can either facilitate or undermine the effectiveness of SEL programs. In this study, I interviewed thirteen Colombian teachers to determine their SEL knowledge and practices (i.e., SEL conceptualization, beliefs about effectiveness, self-efficacy, training, school support, barriers, ideal program characteristics,). The findings revealed that teachers in Colombian schools have a good understanding of socioemotional skills, positive attitudes toward implementing SEL practices, and make an effort to promote them in their students. However, due to the lack of SEL training opportunities, they struggle to provide evidence-based and contextualized support for their students' SEL development. To address this issue, providing SEL training for teachers is recommended because it can enhance their current practices, such as embedding implicit SEL into the curriculum, implementing specific interactions to support SEL, and using homeroom and parenting counseling spaces that promote SEL development. Moreover, careful consideration must be given to the conditions of rural public schools with lower socioeconomic status and teachers who lack postgraduate degrees because they have less training, economic resources, and physical safety to support their students' SEL. The study also highlights the need for culturally responsive and trauma informed SEL practices supported by public policies.