- As school starts this fall, whether in-person or virtually, three social-emotional learning practices outlined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning can help support students’ emotional needs in the classroom, Lainie Rowell, an education consultant and author of "Evolving Learner: Shifting From Professional Development to Professional Learning From Kids, Peers, and the World," writes for Edutopia.
- Including daily routines and rituals are practices that help everyone feel their voices are valid, and that could include having each student talk about something kind they’ve done — or had done for them. Teachers may also want to hear from students to understand whether they feel their needs are supported and heard within peer groups as they work collaboratively.
- Educators can also look at other ways to help students maintain engagement with each other and their work, in addition to thinking about how they end a specific project or lesson, allocating time for students to say how they felt about the experience or to express what they’re thankful for.
Students' social-emotional needs and mental health will play a role as schools reopen for in-person learning and re-engage learners, who have been away from each other, from teachers and from physical learning environments. The COVID-19 pandemic may have also taken an emotional toll on a child’s personal and family life — as well as on teachers — and may play a role in how students feel as they start school.
Weaving social-emotional tools into classroom lessons and activities may help to support students both emotionally and academically as the 2021-22 school year begins, helping them better absorb and process the learning taking place in the classroom. These tools can be woven into lessons across the board, from health and wellness to art.
Rebuilding relationships between peers is one way social-emotional learning skills can help to strengthen school community and even classroom learning. As students feel more connected and comfortable with classmates, they’re more likely to share and participate. And that engagement has been linked to improved math, literacy and social studies skills — as well as higher grades.
SEL tools brought into classrooms have longer-term benefits, as well. These skills have been shown to boost a student’s employment and earning power after they graduate and move forward with their lives.
By embedding SEL tools into curriculum, administrators can add another avenue of support to students as they return to physical classrooms after an extraordinary school year.