What is social emotional learning in the classroom?
Social emotional learning refers to social and emotional skills related to the ability to recognize and manage emotions, develop care and concern, a healthy state of mind, make responsible decisions and build positive relationships, as well as face challenges effectively.
In today's classrooms, social emotional learning is very important. Students must learn to manage their emotions to become contributors to society and to develop a healthy and positive life with regard to their behavior and relationships. Students don’t always have these skills developed when they are young, so teaching them is very important.
There are five important social and emotional learning skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, interpersonal skills and responsible decision-making.
The basic premise of these basic skills is that teaching emotional health will lead to academic success. When children feel loved and safe, their brains will be more prepared and they will be able to reach their full potential.
Tips to incorporate social emotional learning in your classroom
Here are six quick and easy ways to teach SEL skills and implement them in the classroom:
1. School family
Ask students to bring a family portrait to share with the class. It’s recommended to do this at the beginning of the school year, but you can do it anytime. Ask them questions and show an interest in their family, and post these pictures on the bulletin board so they can see this connection between home and school every day.
As you teach and develop your classroom environment, students will learn that everyone is a part of the school family. Show this by hanging photos of the students and class activities near the family photos. You can change these images throughout the year.
Try to post all these pictures near the class rules as a reminder to the students that following the classroom rules or regulations is the way the school family works.The family photos should remain visible throughout the year to remind them of this important connection. It also usually makes them smile when they see their loved ones.
2. Reward them when they do good things
Give words of encouragement to all students at some point during the day, especially when completing challenging tasks. Try to be specific and personal when saying your words. Students don’t always feel flattered when they hear "good homework" or “good job”.
Also, when you see a student's kind behavior towards another student, comment on it. Otherwise, you can also take a picture and hang it on the classroom’s photo board. This usually triggers a series of acts of kindness. If you don't have a camera, you can also mimic the action with your fingers to let the student know that you have noticed his/her positive behavior.
Forming good habits for students
3. Greet the students
You can stand at the entrance of the classroom to greet the students every day. To encourage eye contact and optimism, try to look them in the eye and say good morning with a smile. Also keep in mind that when they lose their teeth, wear new shoes or cut their hair, they will appreciate it if you notice it and say a few kind words to make them feel good and confident.
After greeting the students cordially, you will notice who had a difficult morning at home or who did not sleep well enough. You can talk more with these children during the day or even talk to them privately to find out what concerns they may have.
4. Problem solving
It’s really important to teach students how to manage their emotions when they face problems. Teach students how to breathe deeply, use words appropriately and assertively, and how to listen.
If students come to you to discuss and share their problems, listen and remember that they may not be able to solve some problems on their own. The important thing is not to ignore their concerns so listen carefully. This will help them feel heard and understood. It will also contribute to teaching them how to solve their problems and make them feel self-reliant.
5. Congratulations board
For this practice, you should choose two or three outstanding students every day and put their names on the board. Next, you should ask other students to write a eulogy about their classmates.
If you have younger students, you can ask them to stand up and form a circle. Then you can tell those two or three students they will be congratulating to take center stage in turn, so the other students will have a chance to say something nice to them. This helps build a positive relationship between students and really creates a sense of well-being among all who participate.
6. End of the day
At the end of each day, you can dedicate between 5 and 10 minutes to finish the day the right way. You can recap about the day, say something positive, randomly ask some students to give reasons for which they are grateful, or point out kind behaviors among the students. If a problem has occurred during the day, take a couple of minutes to discuss it.
You can also ask each student to talk about what happened that day or other thoughts that may go through their heads, focusing especially on those who do not want to speak. Try to limit them to a single comment so you don't run out of time.
To end the day, you can also sing a song that everyone likes, shake hands or hug. If you end the day with a positive attitude, you will see how the children go home with a smile and pleasant thoughts. They will want to return the next day motivated to continue learning new things.
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Why is it important to teach Social Emotional Learning in school?
Taking the time to integrate social and emotional learning into the classroom each day is something that will surely benefit everyone involved. It will really teach students how to build positive and healthy relationships, thus creating a harmonious atmosphere in the classroom.
Besides this, implementing SEL will also enhance the culture and general atmosphere of the school. Ultimately, you have to take into account that these skills will help students thrive in life. Allowing children to master self-awareness and the ability to control their emotions will allow them to graduate from high school, continue their studies, and pursue a successful career.
What are the main social emotional competences?
These are the main competences that should be considered in any SEL program.
Self-knowledge refers to the basic social and emotional skills that contribute to learning, including these following three main aspects:
- The ability to accurately recognize emotions and their effects on one's behavior.
- The ability to assess the strengths and limitations of each.
- The ability to maintain confidence and think positively.
Self-control can be defined as the ability to effectively manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, such as:
- Stress management.
- Impulse control.
- The ability to set and achieve personal goals.
Social awareness is the most extensive socio-emotional skill of all. Unlike the other skills, this ability does not apply to oneself, but to the relationship with the environment. These are its three main areas:
- The ability to put yourself in other people's shoes and empathize with others.
- The ability to recognize and respect differences between people: culture, preferences, physical, origin, among others.
- The ability to understand and follow social and ethical norms of behavior.
This is the ability to make constructive and respectful decisions about personal behavior and social interaction regarding to:
- Ethics and social norms.
- Evaluation of the consequences of decisions made by you and third parties.
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