You have to Maslow before you can Bloom.
Educators everywhere know and understand this foundational principle of teaching. Success in academics relies on educators meeting students’ basic needs for safety and belonging (Maslow) before focusing on challenging academic tasks (Bloom).
The typical classroom environment is filled with students from all walks of life. It’s often easy to recognize students whose basic needs are being met, because many of them are eager scholars. Others, however, can benefit from developing social and emotional skills, which can translate into greater academic gains as their educational career progresses.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) can help make your classroom time more effective by meeting student social and emotional needs. But how do you incorporate SEL in the classroom throughout the day?
Incorporating SEL in the Classroom
To help your students build social and emotional resilience, you should integrate SEL throughout your entire instructional day. Here are a few ideas:
- Greet students into the school and classroom daily. If you’re teaching virtually, you can do this by entering students from your virtual waiting room one at a time and saying hello to them as they enter.
- Have a daily class or morning meeting focused on specific trait or SEL skill.
- Have a daily emotional check-in using the SEL/Status Check feature in PBIS Rewards
- Work in partnerships
- Teach them how to work in groups
- Teach students how to manage conflict with peer mediation
- Buddy up with an older or younger class
- Have brain breaks throughout the day that get them out of their seats: Go Noodle, HYPE the Breaks, code.org’s dance party coding tutorial, etc.
- Practice mindfulness
- Practice breathing exercises such as box breathing
- Have non-academic chat time such as A Rose and A Thorn
- 5 x 5 Strategy: Teacher spends 25 minutes talking to 5 students for 5 minutes each by phone or through video meetings. Alternately, a 2 x 10 strategy, in which a teacher spends two minutes per day for ten days with an at-risk student, can help build connection and resilience.
- Create a Peace or Calm Down Corner
- Have recess for 40 to 45 minutes per day: can be two 20-minute sessions
- Encourage journal writing and reflection
- Read books aloud to the entire class
- Incorporate art activities and hands-on crafts
- Talk about identifying and managing emotions
- Give responsibilities to the class by selecting students for classroom jobs. If you’re teaching remotely, you can still enlist the help of your students with virtual classroom jobs.
- Practice Problem Solving
- Encourage group and teamwork
- Encourage positive self-talk through quotes and daily affirmations
- Celebrate and share diversity
- Promote a growth mindset
- Encourage a culture of kindness
- Play games
- Teach coping skills and managing stress
- Teach active listening
- Discuss empathy
- Set SMART Goals
SEL for Lifelong Success
It’s no secret that educators have a big job in front of them each time they step into the classroom. Add in an ever-changing educational landscape, and both Maslow and Bloom can be an even greater challenge. Of course we want our students to do well academically! Making time to integrate SEL into academics can be more effective in helping schools achieve their goals than just focusing on academics alone.
Keep in mind that SEL isn’t just for lower grades. Your big kids can benefit from social and emotional skills development, too! In fact, the development and refinement of these qualities is often a lifelong endeavor – all the more reason to give students a firm foundation from the very beginning.
Regardless if you’re teaching in person or in a virtual environment, incorporating SEL throughout the day can help your students achieve more. What do you do to make SEL a part of your curriculum?