The Power of Social + Emotional Learning

The following post was co-authored by Flipgrid CEO Jim Leslie and Head of Educator Innovation Jornea Erwin. In this post, Jim and Jornea present a foundation of social and emotional learning and share specific ways you can leverage Flipgrid to enhance social and emotional learning in your classroom. 


In some ways, discussing social and emotional learning (SEL) with the Flipgrid community is preaching to the choir. We’re well aware of the transformative power of #StudentVoice and every day we are amazed by your inspirational stories of students discovering their voices, sharing their voices with others, and learning to respect the diverse voices of others.

At the same time, research into the impact of SEL can help us model Flipgrid initiatives to achieve the greatest impact and help school administrators understand, promote, and align our Flipgrid work with their institutional priorities.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL):

Social and Emotional Learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

SEL is a top priority for many schools, districts, and departments of education across the country...and for good reason. Eight studies covering 82 interventions involving over 97,000 students show that:

  • A 2013 survey of teachers found 93% of teachers want a greater focus on SEL in schools.
  • Conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use were all significantly lower for students exposed to SEL programs, and [the] development of social and emotional skills and positive attitudes toward self, others, and school was higher.
  • 3.5 years after the last intervention, the academic performance of students exposed to SEL programs was an average 13 percentile points higher than their non-SEL peers.
  • The Reno-area school district found a 21-point difference in math scores and a 20-point difference in English Language Arts (ELA) scores between students with low and high social and emotional competencies.
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To help engage your students in Social and Emotional Learning, Durlak et al identify four key elements to effective SEL approaches - Sequenced, Active, Focused, Explicit - encapsulated by the acronym SAFE. These components are empowered by Flipgrid capabilities and the use-cases our community (you!) share in the Discovery Library and on social media every day.

S.A.F.E. Element: Sequenced | Flipgrid Service: Topics

Flipgrid Topics organize discussions into a series of interactions on subject matter selected by the educator. Topics may be released to students over time to sequence the discussion.

Best Practice

Create a series of Topics within your Grids to move the conversation from introductions to in-depth discussions of personal perspectives on challenging subjects. Flipgrid Classroom users may want to scaffold the entire course in advance, setting each Topic’s launch and freeze date to automatically guide students through the sequence as the course progresses.

Examples: Social Awareness

S.A.F.E. Element: Active | Flipgrid Service: Responses and Replies

Students plan, record, review, and re-record their video Responses to ensure they convey exactly what they want. They also watch, and reply to, each others' videos to understand, provide feedback, debate, and respect the perspectives of their peers. Throughout this discussion, students are actively engaged in the process.

Best Practice

Prioritize approachability. Allow imperfections in your Topic videos to put students at ease. Consider starting with 90-second Topic videos and then vary your Topic video to parallel the Response length: helping students by modeling in your videos how to be concise in some discussions and more detailed in others. Flipgrid Classroom users may want to enable Replies so students can dive more deeply into each others’ views. Consider Sparking especially exceptional student Responses into new Topics to reinforce student action and leadership.


S.A.F.E. Element: Focused | Flipgrid Services: Topic Descriptions, Attachments & Response Feedback

Educators use Topic Descriptions to introduce the discussion subject and set expectations for students' contributions.

Best Practice

Share specific expectations of your students in Topic Descriptions and share links to supporting Attachments, including examples of model performances. Provide formative assessment using Feedback to allow students to practice increasingly effective communications. Flipgrid Classroom users may want to utilize Customized Feedback to map your assessment rubric to the specific expectations set in your Topic Descriptions and Attachments.


S.A.F.E. Element: Explicit | Flipgrid Services: Grid Purpose, Ideas

Supplemental to in-person instructions, the Grid Purpose is defined by educators to explicitly inform their students of the intended outcome for participating in Flipgrid discussions.

Best Practices

Clearly define your objectives for each Grid so your students understand the specific skills they are expected to learn. Enable Ideas to allow students to practice these skills outside of the structure imposed by Topics.


With all this in mind: we have a promise for you...

We will continue to develop and support capabilities that empower you and your fellow educators to support students’ social and emotional competencies! Thank you for all you do to help students find their voice and respect the diverse voices of their peers. 

Jim and Jornea



Belfield, C., Bowden, B., Klapp, A., Levin, H., Shand, R., & Zander, S. (February 2015). The Economic Value of Social and Emotional Learning Clive (REVISED VERSION). Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved from

Durlak, J., Weissberg, R., Dymnicki, A., Taylor, R., & Schellinger, K. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–32.

Yoder, N. (January 2014). Teaching the Whole Child, Instructional Practices That Support Social-Emotional Learning in Three Teacher Evaluation Frameworks. Retrieved from

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (2018). CASEL. Retrieved from