Strategies to Support the Social Emotional Development of Students

What is SEL?
Social Emotional Learning, or SEL, is the process through which children and adults 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 an essential layer to student growth, and should not be just a quick add on to a lesson. 

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Why SEL Matters?
As the creators of HyperDocs, we have always worked to promote individual curiosity, and connected classroom communities that foster a love of learning. An integral part of that is putting the emotional health of students first, then comes the academic learning. 

CASEL framework
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, has developed a framework to understand the core competencies that contribute to our well-being. Click HERE to study the core competencies closely. The CASEL framework is not a curriculum, but a foundation for incorporating wellness practices into individual lives, classrooms, schools, homes, and communities. If integrated appropriately, and without a ‘policing’ approach, the outcomes would be positive self-worth and emotional health, thus leading to academic growth! 

Be Aware of Bias
We hope that as you integrate SEL strategies into your learning environment you also consider the implications for equity and inclusion. Educators should never project their own behavior norms onto others, but rather promote wellness practices that are compassionate, not just compliant. In this article the authors point out that SEL instruction and practices ought to be culturally-affirming. One simple way we can shift our mindset towards ‘misbehaving’ students is to change our perspective and change our language. 

Teachers Need to Take Care of Themselves 
Teaching during a pandemic has not been easy. Many educators’ lives, along with their students and own family’s lives, have changed drastically. Teachers have been called to completely shift their instructional methods and classroom norms. Whether or not you are teaching remotely, in a hybrid model, or face to face, the demands on education have been challenging. We must take care of ourselves. Here is a Mindfulness mini-unit that teachers can complete on their own, or with colleagues. This unit can also be taught to students to teach the science of mindfulness and to build routines for managing emotions. Here are some more strategies for teachers: 

  • Acknowledge your own feelings. Acknowledge the struggle. This is hard, and it is acceptable to say that out loud. 
  • Identify self-care practices. "When I walk the dog it helps me to get outside and get exercise."
  • Reach out  when you need support -- to friends, colleagues, administrators
  • Take care of your body: De-screen, exercise, wear light-blocking glasses, drink more water, schedule stretch breaks during and between your instructional blocks. 
  • Breathe. 

Teaching Students to Take Care of Themselves
One of the first steps towards self-care is self-awareness. Oftentimes we ask students briefly how they are doing, but we don’t take the next steps to study their responses, or provide solutions for self-regulating emotions. In the Google Forms below, a teacher can both check in and also provide some ideas for next steps.  
View the Elementary Form  | Make a Copy of the Elementary Form  
View the Secondary Form |  Make a Copy of the Secondary Form

Teaching Tips with this Form: 

Study the data, don’t just give the form to fill out and move on

Give the language to students so they can begin to identify/name their own emotions - this is a lifelong skill we want to empower children to have.

Provide the ‘now what?’ Giving practical strategies will help children learn how to cope with overwhelming emotions. For example, you can show students what to do with their emotions like in this graphic, as part of the self-assessment practice. Notice the ideas provided to the right on the image below: 

Validate that emotions change. Send the message to children of all ages that it is OK to move beyond the zones. For example, you do not need to feel happy/joy all the time. The other emotions have value in our well-being as well. 

​​​​​​​ "What is SEL? - casel." Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

Author: HyperDocs Admin 28-09-2020