This post was originally written for and published on KidsDiscover on March 2, 2021!
Without a doubt, the past year has been taxing on all of us. Prior to the pandemic, I noticed that my students social-emotional learning (SEL) needs were much greater than they had been in the past. Once we all shifted to 100% online learning, I noticed that while some students thrived in the online-only setting, others needed much more support, access to resources and love. As a classroom teacher, I know the available resources in my school, district, and community to support students and families. This post will focus on strategies I use in my classroom to support students’ SEL. No matter your current learning context (100% online, hybrid/blended, 100% in person), these strategies will support your students!
One of my go-to beginning of class routines has been a daily check-in. I use Google Forms to do an SEL and academic check-in for my students each day. During in-person and 100% online learning, I use a daily check-in at the beginning of the period. When we were in emergency remote instruction (fully asynchronous), I used a weekly check-in. Both of these allow students to communicate their needs; when needed, I will have a private conversation with the student to offer support or encouragement.
Take a Deep Breath
Teaching is hard. Being a kid is hard. Sometimes, we need to pause to take a deep breath. Towards the beginning or at the halfway point in class, we will take a short break to take a deep breath.
Did you know that if you Google “breathing exercise,” a 1 minute breathing video will pop up at the top of the Google search page? This has been an amazing resource for all of us lately!
Here are a few of my other favorite short breathing/mindfulness exercises:
- Managing Anxiety: Breathing Exercise Amid COVID-19 Crisis | UC San Diego Health (very instructional!)
- Kids Meditation – Square Breathing (it helps to have students trace the square in the air as you go)
- Headspace | Mini Meditation | Let Go of Stress
- Sound Bath Study Music (Spotify)
Incorporating SEL Into Class
Lastly, I have been integrating SEL into class every day. Sometimes it is at the beginning, sometimes it is in the middle, and sometimes it is at the end. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, do not worry! “Integrating SEL” does not need to be one more thing to plan! It can be as simple as pulling up the 1 minute Google breathing exercise I mentioned earlier, or it can be a more formal curriculum. My student teachers and I have curated a selection of our favorite (and quick!) SEL activities in these SEL Slides. Add one to your lesson as a way to pause, check in with yourself, and take a moment to reset.
How do you incorporate SEL into your classroom?