What is Social Emotional Learning?
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a methodology that emphasizes the importance of developing skills to achieve goals, manage emotions, and maintain healthy attitudes (What Is the CASEL Framework?, n.d.). Studies show that children that are taught through SEL grow up to be more socially and emotionally aware, and are more successful in attaining long-term goals and having healthy relationships (Lapidot-Lafler, 2022). There are five main pillars that define SEL:
- Self-awareness – the ability to identify your emotions and understand how they affect actions and behaviours. This includes being able to identify strengths and weaknesses and having an accurate perception of yourself.
- Self-management – the ability to manage your emotions. This can include stress management, impulse control, self-motivation, and goal-setting.
- Social awareness – the ability to empathize with others and respect different perspectives. Examples of social awareness are appreciating diversity, reflecting on how other people perceived a situation, and displaying empathy.
- Relationship skills – essential for creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Some skills include clear communication, active listening, conflict resolution, and much more.
- Making responsible decisions – the ability to make informed decisions by considering the benefits and consequences of an action. Responsible decision-making skills include problem-solving, reflecting, and analyzing situations.
Did you know that the classroom plays an essential role in implementing SEL for children in Kindergarten to Grade 2?
A Teacher’s Role
The teacher’s presence is an important component of SEL framework, as the teacher’s actions serve as an example to the students (Siew & Bull, 2018, 340-341). One way a teacher can demonstrate SEL is by setting a positive tone in the classroom.
Try using these phrases:
- “Thank you for listening”
- “I appreciate it when you _____ because ______.”
- “You were very helpful today!”
Additionally, acknowledging achievements creates a positive environment for young students to learn.
Teachers can also implement games to keep their students engaged and excited about learning, as this allows kids to express themselves freely, which helps build their relationship skills and self-awareness. Hands-on activities can be a great way to keep students interested in current tasks and topics. For instance, when teaching addition try pairing up students and giving them unit blocks for counting. Not only will the blocks help the students visualize and conceptualize addition, they will also improve self-management skills and relationships skills by learning to take turns, sharing the blocks, and learning from mistakes (3 Ways to Promote Social and Emotional Learning Through Math, 2020). Tasks that allow students to work together and be in motion is a great motivator to keep them engaged and learning.
Let Your Students Learn
An important application of SEL is task allocation, where students are assigned specific tasks or roles to develop some of the key skills of SEL. By allowing younger students to have certain tasks where they take leadership positions, they are able to work on all five of the SEL pillars (Siew & Bull, 2018, 345).
Some important roles in group work are (Using Roles in Group Work, 2022):
- Facilitator: In this role, students keep the group organized and focused. They ensure that everyone stays on task and has all the materials they need.
- Note-taker: In this role, students can take notes of anything that was discussed and completed in the group.
- Presenter: This student will present to the class, to the teacher, or to the other group members anything that the group worked on and wants to share. They are the voice of the group.
- Encourager: This student ensures that everyone is staying motivated while working on their assigned task. This can include offering up kind words, or helping out one of their group members.
- Checker: This student double-checks everyone’s work. They can check for grammatical errors, fact-checking, or just that they completed their task correctly.
Then the students are able to work amongst themselves and learn important skills in collaboration, such as communication and creativity. It is important to note that even though each student has their own responsibilities, they need to work together to make sure the group task is completed.
To further foster problem-solving, and eventually making responsible decisions, teachers should encourage students to suggest their own solutions to problems. Try using the following tip to help students begin coming up with solutions independently.
Ask your students questions to check their understanding!
|What answer did you get?
|Walk me through the steps you took.
|What don’t you get?
|What do you know? How can we use that to help us here?
|This answer is incorrect.
|Tell me how you got this answer and let’s try to find the mistake.
It is important to demonstrate patience and kindness when implementing any of these exercises, especially for younger students, as they are just starting to learn how to react to their emotions. A harsh tone or a negative attitude can cause students to become scared because the idea of failure has become a negative and discouraging aspect of learning. We want students to embrace their mistakes because only then will they grow and learn.
Creating a space for Social Emotional Learning in the classroom allows students to feel and express what they need, as it is critical to their success as students and as individuals. Not only will students learn important skills like regulating emotions and understanding perspective, but they will also learn to apply these skills in their everyday lives. Give Social Emotional Learning a try in your classroom and see what incredible young people you can inspire!
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THE EFFECTS OF A SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING PROGRAM ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN: THE ROLE OF PUPILS’ CHARACTERISTICS. Psychology in the Schools, 50(2), 165-180. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21667 Reframing Classroom Management: A Toolkit for Educators. (n.d.). Learning for Justice. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.learningforjustice.org/sites/default/files/general/TT_Reframing_Classroom_Managment_Handouts.pdf Siew, N. C., & Bull, R. (2018, August 24). Facilitating Social Emotional Learning in Kindergarten Classrooms: Situational Factors and Teachers’ Strategies. International Journal of Early Childhood, 50(3), 335-352. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13158-018-0225-9 Using Roles in Group Work. (2022, August 10). Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://ctl.wustl.edu/resources/using-roles-in-group-work/ What Is the CASEL Framework? (n.d.). CASEL. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://casel.org/fundamentals-of-sel/what-is-the-casel-framework/ What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Why It Matters. (2022, August 17). National University. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.nu.edu/blog/social-emotional-learning-sel-why-it-matters-for-educators/