The implementation of social emotional learning through culturally relevant pedagogy in low socioeconomic schools : a phenomenological-case study at Jones Elementary.


Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Each year economically disadvantaged students fall further behind in the achievement and opportunity gap. Studies show that ethnically diverse students do not enter school with social skills supporting success in traditional school settings (Jagers et al., 2019). One approach to solving this problem is incorporating cultural background knowledge to teach and apply social skills. The most appropriate character education program for diverse learners focuses on social-emotional learning (SEL) as the significant gaps in behavior and social skills prevent students from achieving academic success. SEL competencies support educators’ efforts in helping children process their environment and become better students and contributing members of society (CASEL, 2020). SEL programming in low socioeconomics schools with various ethnic groups loses effectiveness unless it starts with connecting cultural backgrounds that allow educators to understand and incorporate cultural exclusivity and differences to support high academic achievement (Torres, 2019). Therefore, there is an impending need to connect culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) to SEL to further gains in academic achievement, instructional practices, and implementation strategies in low socioeconomic status (SES) schools. In this phenomenological case study, I explored a way to support and provide the skills for ethnically diverse learners in low-SES schools to decrease educational achievement and opportunity gaps. SEL in connection with CRP can provide an advantage to students from historically marginalized races and socioeconomic groups to realize their full potential in an ethnically diverse society. In-depth data collection and analysis from participants through questionnaires, a semi-structured focus group interview, observations with artifacts, and one-on-one follow-up interviews allowed me to understand teachers’ lived experiences relating CRP to SEL implementation. Five teachers at Jones Elementary with a range of experience and expertise participated in this research. I examined cultural connections that support ethnically diverse learners towards academic and behavioral success by relating CRP to SEL implementation through self-efficacy, positive relationships among all stakeholders, and beneficial classroom and campus environments. This phenomenological case study provides an example of what success can look like when teachers can connect CRP to SEL implementation to support ethnically diverse learners in low-SES schools.



Social emotional learning. Culturally relevant pedagogy. Low socioeconomic schools.