In the world of educational acronyms there is no acronym more important right now than SEL (Social and Emotional Learning).
With the Covid-19 pandemic, issues of social injustice, and life circumstances throwing curveballs, we are at an integral point in education when it comes to the social and emotional well-being of our students. SEL is not a new concept, however, when it comes to professional development, it no doubt is at the top of many administrators, boards, and districts must do lists.
What exactly is SEL?
The leader in addressing SEL in K-12 education is The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning or CASEL.
CASEL defines SEL as “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 all about self-awareness, responsibility, understanding one’s emotional state, learning how to get along with your peers, and setting positive goals that are obtainable.
When students lack social and emotional skills, it not only impacts that student negatively but the people around them as well which is a dangerous concoction of behavior issues, disruptions in and out of the class, and academic struggles.
SEL in Virtual Classroom
In the age of distance learning, SEL offers a way for students to feel connected to their school community. SEL can help students with their own well-being even from a distance. SEL is not a once a week lesson, it needs to be embedded in your everyday routine. It’s imperative to have an all-inclusive, positive, safe place for students within your classroom setting.
The New Normal
There’s no question that students and teachers face new challenges as it relates to our ever changing world. The Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to close their doors disrupting the entire educational system which no doubt had a tremendous psychological impact on students, teachers, and families alike. There is/was nothing normal about that. Yet, we keep hearing that this is the “new normal”. Think about it, just a few months ago, it was normal for students to countdown to summer break. It was perfectly normal for teachers to hear students gripe about how much they hate school. Now students are counting down the days to when they can go back to face-to-face school. With this “new normal” it is vital that our students feel a sense of belonging whether they are in a face-to-face setting or in a virtual class.
SEL in your class
More than likely educators are already doing SEL in their schools and classrooms without even realizing they are doing it. It’s just the nature of teachers to put their students’ well-being first. To ensure not only their physical well-being is secure, but their social and emotional well-being, here are a few ways you can implement SEL into your classroom.
|SEL Strategy||Face-to-Face Learning||Virtual Learning|
|Daily check ins||a simple “how was your day” can do wonders for a student’s morale||Use a Google Form to gauge your students mindset and get feedback|
|Bitmoji||Use your Bitmoji to lighten the mood, whether it’s on a poster board, in student feedback, or embedded in your slideshows||Use your Bitmoji in your presentations to keep your students engaged and feel connected to you|
|Positive Vibes||Stay positive! It’s going to be a rollercoaster of a ride, students will feed off your energy||Adjust your lessons online to be more interactive and engaging (see Bitmoji) – this will keep the mood positive|
|Routine||Set your rituals and routines from the very first day of school. This will give your students a sense of normalcy||Students are used to a bell dismissing them, they are used to taking a bus to school, going to the cafeteria for lunch. Create an online routine for your class to mimic a set schedule. This can help reduce any anxiety a student might have with logging on and engaging|
Building a Community
By building a community where your students take ownership in their learning as well as their peers’ learning, you are creating a sense of structure, belonging, and safety. When one student is successful, the class is successful. No more, “He got an A because he’s the teacher’s pet” or “She got an A because she is smart”. Everyone is capable of being successful, it just might look different for each student. Find ways to celebrate all your students regardless of academic level.
Students and parents rely on schools for stability, shelter, and many times food. There is no doubt that the recent pandemic and social injustice has turned our world on its head. It’s important as educators to continue to support our students. SEL supports life skills and soft skills. Although there are models out there to implement SEL, truly the best model is YOU!