SEL is even more important for students during COVID-19--and these 8 strategies can help establish important connections

As I navigate this school year, I am keenly aware of the ever-present power of change. Each day seems to bring a new challenge, a new policy, a new online platform, a new protocol, a new expectation, and at times, new quarantines. As educators, we take a deep breath, strengthen our resolve, and carry on. But what about our students? How are they navigating this new environment? Now more than ever, they need us to be aware of and support their social-emotional health and help them cultivate SEL skills.

In my work with gifted students, I’ve had the opportunity to develop strategies and purposeful activities for exploring and strengthening social emotional learning.

Related content: 6 strategies for teaching SEL remotely

Realizing there is no single strategy or activity that will address every need was monumental. The SEL needs of my students are as varied as the students themselves. Therefore, I needed a well-stocked and easily accessed SEL toolbox. The ideas below are my most used and most effective tools.

Time matters: The power of belonging and being known cannot be overstated. The strength stemming from that connectedness empowers students to both survive and thrive. Set aside time each week for an individual chat with your students. Call them by name and engage them in a conversation that matters to them. This is not a time for discussions of missing assignments, test grades, or behavior issues. Use this time to really get to know the student. Show you are interested in their world.

As I navigate this school year, I am keenly aware of the ever-present power of change. Each day seems to bring a new challenge, a new policy, a new online platform, a new protocol, a new expectation, and at times, new quarantines.

As educators, we take a deep breath, strengthen our resolve, and carry on. But what about our students? How are they navigating this new environment? Now more than ever, they need us to be aware of and support their social emotional health.

In my work with gifted students, I’ve had the opportunity to develop strategies and purposeful activities for exploring and strengthening social emotional learning.

Realizing there is no single strategy or activity that will address every need was monumental. The SEL needs of my students are as varied as the students themselves. Therefore, I needed a well-stocked and easily accessed SEL toolbox. The ideas below are my most used and most effective tools.

Time matters: The power of belonging and being known cannot be overstated. The strength stemming from that connectedness empowers students to both survive and thrive. Set aside time each week for an individual chat with your students. Call them by name and engage them in a conversation that matters to them. This is not a time for discussions of missing assignments, test grades, or behavior issues. Use this time to really get to know the student. Show you are interested in their world.

In our current hybrid learning environments, these one-on-one conversations are even more potent. It will take a little more organizing to set up individual virtual meetings as opposed to chats on the playground or on the way to the lunchroom. But the effort is justified by the outcome. The sense of belonging and being known is sometimes dulled when filtered through a device. Take the extra time to connect to the faces in the squares on the screen. And remember, names are important. Know the name of every student.

Utilize SEL activities in content instruction: Soar with Wings: Social Emotional Skills for School and Life is a program partnership between Discovery Education and the AllState Foundation. These digital resources are fun and engaging for elementary students. Imagine students learning self-awareness and self-management through storytelling. Another bundle focuses on decision making skills utilizing games and playing. Our younger students naturally learn through play. Use that propensity to grow their SEL skills.

Our older students need a deeper dive into SEL skills. Spend some time exploring LG’s Experience Happiness Discover Your Happy content. This standards-aligned and science-based content focuses on the 6 Sustainable Happiness Skills of Mindfulness, Generosity, Human Connection, Gratitude, Positive Outlook and Purpose. Learning and strengthening these skills will empower students to protect their own happiness. As educators we know happy students learn more easily than unhappy students. Take time to foster their happiness self-help skills.

Gratitude gab: Begin each day with a time for sharing the good things happening in your classroom, your life and in the lives of your students. Gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving anymore so to speak. Speaking a simple “I am grateful for…” sentence engages a positive attitude. That positivity carries into the learning of the day. If class size and time constraints seem daunting, gift each student with a Gratitude Journal and a standing assignment for daily entries. This can be as simple as pages stapled together, a spiral notepad, a dollar store journal or a digital forum. It’s not about the medium as much as it is about the expectation of expressing gratitude. In virtual classrooms, consider creating gratitude journals as a daily activity or assignment within your delivery platform. Consider allowing video submissions as well as written entries.
source: Read More, eSchool News

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