According to Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL, 2020),
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel, and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. The core SEL competencies are: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.
The research shows that SEL not only improves achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, but it also increases prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improves student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress among students. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a Federal Law, recognizes social-emotional education as an important factor in helping students develop crucial life skills that go beyond academics. Here are a few ways that you can support your students’ social-emotional learning on a daily basis:
- Visualization to release stress: At the beginning of class, have your students close their eyes and imagine what stress looks and feels like inside their bodies for a few minutes, and then ask them to release it by taking deep breaths and then breathing out. This is a mindfulness exercise that helps to put them in touch with their feelings (i.e., fosters self-awareness) while preparing them to listen to instruction and participate in academic activities.
- Write down, rip up, and throw away your stress: Have your students write down their expectations and insecurities, rip up, and throw away the paper on which they had written. This emotional check-in takes about 3 minutes. By acknowledging how your students are feeling and their barriers to learning at the beginning of each class, you’ll create a safe space for your students to overcome those barriers.
- Quote of the day: Introduce a quote relevant to what your students are learning or to a shared experience—for example, an act of violence in the community. You can facilitate a whole-class discussion, group students into pairs, or have each student share a one-word response to the quote. This gives students the space to reflect on their beliefs and experiences and whether they agree or disagree with the quote and other students’ opinions. It also gives them insight into their peers’ perspectives and feelings.
- Starting positively: Have each student tape a sheet of paper to their back and then walk around and write positive qualities each other’s backs. They can read the comments made on their own time.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. (2020). What is SEL. Retrieved from https://casel.org/what-is-sel/
For more information see: The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.
Author: Claire Agard, Ph.D.