In a classroom that supports student learning as well as their social and emotional well-being, there will be fewer disruptions, and students will better connect with the learning and the school environment as a whole. But a positive classroom climate is not achieved by happenstance.
A positive classroom climate is achieved through intentional actions that are meant to develop students’ SEL skills over time—skills that students will have to sharpen depending on situations and circumstances they encounter. As educators, we also understand that we must continually provide students with the opportunity to sharpen those skills using a variety of strategies and activities throughout the school day in multiple settings.
What comes to mind when you think about a classroom with a positive climate and culture? Do you think about the quality of the teacher-student relationship? What about the relationships among the students? Even though the teacher-student relationship plays an important role in student academic success, so do the relationships that students have with each other. How do we as teachers foster those positive student-to-student relationships within our classroom?
Understanding that students learn better in an environment where they feel liked and appreciated, we are always looking for ways to strengthen these relationships. We should prioritize activities and strategies that engage our students in the learning process but also with each other.
When we address a student’s social and emotional well-being, we help cultivate a positive school environment and culture, which helps students feel safe and want to learn and contribute. There is no magic pill that we can give our students, but there are intentional actions we can take to incorporate SEL skills into classrooms to help develop the whole child.
Listed below are a few steps that you can take to incorporate SEL in the classroom.
Social-Emotional Learning Strategies
1. Actively Listen
How do we even begin to know what SEL skills we need to address with our students? We can start by simply listening to what they are saying. Naturally, most people listen to respond instead of listening to learn, but as teachers, it is vital that we actively listen to what our students are saying to us and each other.
I used to allow students to eat lunch in my room on occasion just so I could hear their conversations and get a glimpse into their world. Those random conversations would help me get a pulse on my students and give me a heads up on any problems that could be brewing so I could work to proactively diffuse the situation before it occurred.
This time also allowed me the opportunity to strengthen my relationships with my students. Our students are always looking for ways to connect with us, and this was a non-academic time when my students could just be themselves in a small-group setting with me.
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