Social-Emotional Learning

Our Approach

Focusing Social-Emotional Learning for Rigorous Disciplinary Literacy

The Reading Apprenticeship framework recognizes the crucial role of students’ affect in learning—how they approach challenges and persevere. The table below highlights specific framework supports for the social-emotional elements of learning that make rigorous disciplinary literacy possible. Additionally, our SEL Resources Page provides tools and resources that educators can use in the classroom to support their students.

Learner Dispositions, Mindsets, and Strategies Social-Emotional Learning Supports Built Into The Reading Apprenticeship Framework

Growth and Mastery

Students who believe they can increase their academic ability and success through their own effort are more likely to focus on building competence, to be self-motivating and persistent, and to exhibit behaviors associated with higher academic achievement.

Literacy instruction and support focus on student effort and persistence

  • Instructional routines and support convey a view of reading as a complex process of problem-solving in which readers work to make sense of text.
  • Metacognitive conversation reveals as visible and doable the invisible efforts of proficient readers. It normalizes struggle.
  • Students have repeated opportunities to experiment, fail, modify the parameters, and try again.
  • Teachers use clear, transparent criteria in assessing student work.
  • Feedback and encouragement focus on effort or process (for example, “You worked hard”), conveying teachers’ belief in students’ ability to learn and grow.

Identity and Community

Learning is socially mediated. Feeling part of a classroom community has significant psychological benefits and makes students more likely to engage in productive academic behaviors.

Classroom norms and routines create a sense of safety and belonging

  • Negotiated classroom norms support all students to share ideas and comprehension difficulties without feeling stupid or “uncool.”
  • Teachers tap students’ out-of-school interests and competencies to help students recalibrate their academic potential and identities.
  • Small group work and collaborative meaning-making routines engage all students in thinking, discussing, and actively participating in the academic life of the classroom.

Passion and Purpose

When students are interested in a subject or can connect academic tasks with their own future goals, they are more likely to demonstrate persistent effort and productive academic behaviors.

Literacy instruction connects to students’ lives and potential futures

  • Teachers frame the hard work of reading and learning as a means of increasing autonomy and expanding future options.
  • Teachers build bridges between students’ out-of-school and in-school literacy knowledge and goals.
  • Students have some choice of reading materials and tasks.


Judgments students make about their ability to be successful at an activity influence whether they will seek out or avoid the activity, how much effort they will put forth, and how long they will persevere.

A strengths-based approach highlights and builds on students’ successes and competencies

  • Teachers draw attention to and help students leverage what they already understand and know when texts are unfamiliar or difficult.
  • Students have many supported opportunities to practice higher-level thinking with complex texts (for example, by generating their own questions and citing evidence).
  • Students have many supported opportunities to experience the value of collaborative meaning-making.
  • Students learn to develop academic and literacy goals, monitor their progress, and celebrate successes.

Metacognitive Awareness

Students who are aware of their own thinking can develop strategies to control their learning processes. They can articulate not only what they understand but how they understand it. They become aware of how language is used in academic texts generally and in different disciplines specifically.

Metacognitive conversation engages students in exploring their own thinking processes

  • Ongoing internal and external conversation about thinking focuses students not only on what a text means but also on how a particular reader knows what it means.
  • Classroom routines for reading and discussing text make thinking visible, for example by thinking aloud.
  • Teachers and students explore the ways of thinking and using language characteristic of a specific discipline. For example, in science students learn to make sense of the texts particular to science and to engage in valued science tasks such as forming and testing hypotheses.

Metacognitive Control

Students who intentionally monitor their learning and assess their own success can recognize how to adjust their strategies as needed to achieve their learning goals.

Students develop academic independence through self-regulation and deliberate control over reading and thinking processes

  • Teachers model strategies to help students monitor their comprehension, such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and self-questioning.
  • Students understand that they can decide whether to clarify confusions in the moment or set them aside to process later.
  • Students learn to set their purpose for reading and adjust their reading process accordingly.