contributed by Meg Priceemployment insurance experience
Socio-emotional learning (SEL), by definition, is a process of learning life skills, including how to manage oneself, others and relationships, and work effectively.
While there are many great SEL programs, SEL can also be incorporated into every lesson to teach students to understand how to implement the skills in a variety of situations and form positive habits. All students start school with some level of social and emotional skills, and all will develop their social and emotional skills at different rates.
Parents and teachers are both responsible for teaching students the skills necessary for daily living, and surely much of what they will learn will be by observing our actions. The five strategies below will not only benefit students’ social-emotional learning, but may also benefit teachers’ well-being.
See also The Benefits of Social-Emotional Learning
5 Strategies for Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning into Your Classroom
1. Through mindfulness
Mindfulness is: paying attention, in a particular way, voluntarily, to the present moment, without being judgmental.
We hear more and more about the benefits of mindfulness for children. Increased attention leads to better academic performance and increased emotional and social intelligence. Children are better able to learn, nurture themselves and be aware of their own emotional needs.
Mindfulness practices help students focus on their breath, body, thoughts, feelings, and the world around them. When they can observe their thoughts and feelings, they have the freedom to choose how they will speak and act, which can lead to a happier, more harmonious classroom.
There are many mindfulness activities available for free, on YouTube for example. In addition, there is mindfulness and meditation apps which can provide frameworks to start with. Why not start each lesson with a different mindfulness activity?
2. Explain that thoughts lead to feelings
Research shows that more resilient students do better academically. Resilient students bounce back faster, are aware of their thinking, understand their beliefs, and most importantly, are able to challenge their beliefs and thoughts to create more positive outcomes.
This is an important concept because we may not always be able to influence what happens to us, but we have a powerful influence on how we interpret what happens to us and how we deal with it. . Many students don’t realize that their thoughts play an important role in influencing how they feel.
No matter what happens to you, no one can take it away from you. It’s an empowering lesson to teach any time you hear a student express frustration, anger, and other negative emotions. As a teacher, you can help by listening to the emotion and then helping your student understand where that emotion is coming from and how to adjust their thinking in ways that contribute to their social-emotional well-being.
3. Persistence and pattern determination
A very important aspect of well-being and SEL is the ability to get things done in life. Many students naturally strive to improve in some way, whether they are looking to master a skill, achieve an important goal, or win a competition.
Other students need guidance in this area. Teaching students every lesson that accomplishes things takes effort, patience, and perseverance. Praise for effort is essential in this area of SEL. Each student should be encouraged to set challenging goals during class to feel a sense of accomplishment.
By being mindful and challenging negative thoughts, students can be encouraged to dig deep to find the determination to succeed.
4. Listen with empathy
In other words, listen to be surprised.
Part of SEL is understanding the importance of positive relationships. To have these relationships, we must have and teach empathy. Teachers have a wonderful ability to model empathy. Encourage students to listen to others, then have them listen to be surprised and understand how other students might be feeling. What opportunities do you have in each class to find ways for students to help each other and learn something new about each other’s ideas?
Take the opportunity in the classroom to teach students to ask questions worded in a way that encourages response, not encourages defensiveness. For example, when John says, “Sam, why can’t you just follow the instructions?” encourage John to rephrase his question to better understand what Sam is looking for: “Sam, can we follow these instructions together to make sure they make sense?”
Tone matters in teaching.
5. Emphasize gratitude
Once again, research shows us that a very important aspect of well-being is gratitude. This research indicates that those who regularly express gratitude have more energy and enthusiasm, less stress, and better physical well-being. There are very simple ways to increase your experience and your expression of gratitude; however, it may require us to train ourselves to think differently.
For students, this can be done by incorporating a few simple exercises into each lesson. At the end of each lesson, ask students to reflect on the lesson using these three questions:
– What aspects of this course did you enjoy today?
– Who did you enjoy working with today?
– What areas of this topic would you like to learn more about?
And above all, have fun in every class; learning should be fun and play is a very important part of social-emotional learning!