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3 SEL Practices Teachers Can Use Every Day

Regardless of your teaching and learning situation (fully online, hybrid, or in person), we know that the intentional and explicit weaving of SEL into the fabric of our everyday learning and life is critical.

Below are three SEL signature practices from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) that we need to bring in whenever we come together as a community of learners.

3 SEL Practices for Every Day

1. Welcoming or inclusion activities. Rather than jumping right into instruction, starting with brief routines and rituals provides us with interactive experiences that give everyone a voice and connects the community of learners. A few examples:

  • Use opening check-ins to give students an opportunity to identify their emotions (self-awareness). We can provide scaffolding by using tools such as Zones of Regulation or the Mood Meter. We can also use images and word banks to help build vocabulary.
  • Have a kindness conversation asking everyone to share an act of kindness they have given or received recently (social awareness).

2. Engaging strategies. There are many SEL opportunities throughout learning experiences where learners are naturally engaged both individually and with their peers. As educators, we often use engaging strategies like breakout rooms/small group discussions, wait time, brain breaks, jigsaw, etc. However, we still need to be explicit with SEL. A few examples:

  • Co-create shared expectations ahead of time for collaborative work, and revisit regularly to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met (relationship skills, responsible decision-making, social awareness).
  • Design for inquiry with voice and choice to provide opportunities for learners to construct meaning through communication and collaboration with their peers. Using an approach like Discover, Discuss, Demonstrate gives learners opportunities to explore content before direct instruction (relationship skills, responsible decision making, self management).
  • Incorporate movement breaks to refresh and reset the brain.

As we plan to use engaging strategies, activities, and protocols, we need to offer both interactive and reflective options.

3. Optimistic closure. The name of this practice often leads to the misconception that we need to end on a happy note. The reality is that what is most important about this practice is the intentional and authentic reflection and understanding of the learning experience. A few examples:

  • We can reflect doing a closing check-in on emotions by simply asking something like, “Which one to two words sum up your feelings about our time together?” (self-awareness).
  • Another way to reflect is through a gratitude practice (social awareness). Ask learners to acknowledge something or someone that they are thankful for. Guide them to think deeply and name the feelings they are experiencing (self-awareness).
  • The goal of looking ahead is to get us excited moving forward, and it is also an opportunity to hold ourselves accountable through goal setting and organization.

These are just a few ways to implement the three signature practices, and additional examples are available here.

Emotions matter, and the research on how emotions impact learning is clear. But it isn’t just about accepting SEL’s necessity as a means to increased academic performance. Using the three signature practices as part of a systemic SEL approach allows us to create safe, equitable, empowering learning experiences for all, kids and adults.

Excerpted from “3 SEL Practices Teachers Can Use Every Day” in Edutopia. Read the full article online.

Edutopia, a program of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, is a trusted source shining a spotlight on what works in education.
Source: Edutopia | 3 SEL Practices Teachers Can Use Every Day, https://www.edutopia.org/article/3-sel-practices-teachers-can-use-every-day | © 2021 George Lucas Educational Foundation

CHC offers free community education sessions for educators. Join us to learn practical teaching strategies you can use in your classroom to help more kids reach their promise and potential. Educator sessions are led by experienced educator/clinician teams from Sand Hill School and CHC.

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