Do you ever think back to your high school years? Now that my daughter is in middle school and starting to get a taste of what’s to come in the future, I find myself thinking about how high school students must be struggling during this pandemic.
There are no social gatherings for students to feel connected to their school or communities; no more school dances, no more crowded concerts, no more spirited sporting events. Without these, our students need to look to family, close friends, and teachers for advice and social skills to help them face the future.
As high school students get closer to senior year, they often feel pressured to make plans for their future—whether that’s going to college or planning for a career in a specific field. It’s daunting to them knowing that at 18 years old, they are legally considered adults and soon will be expected to be financially and socially independent. You, as their teacher, can help them figure out what’s truly important in their lives so that they can envision their long-term goals.
SEL Activities for High School
How can you ensure your high school students feel secure and confident enough to face whatever the world may throw at them? The answer is by helping them discover their passions by enabling them to tell their story, while teaching them to be empathetic and self-confident at the same time.
Here are five social-emotional learning activities for high school, with an emphasis on reading and writing. These activities are based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) core competencies, to help you mold your students into independent and meaningful contributors to society.
Students need to develop their interests and find a sense of purpose. Assigning a writing prompt with an anonymous peer review is a great way to get students thinking about themselves with an authentic audience in mind. This writing prompt and graphic organizer from the A Chance in the World SEL Collection in Writable will help students reflect on their lives by answering this question: How do teenagers form their identity?
You may also consider assigning this prompt with the novel The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph, a book on the HMH Into Literature novels list. This novel will help students understand what it feels like to discover their voice and be heard.
This competency is the quintessential emotional intelligence students need to be successful and self-confident. The key is to remind students to focus on their skills (and not their perceived deficiencies) in order to set meaningful goals and have the self-motivation and self-discipline needed to achieve them.
Overcoming personal problems or crises often teaches us a lot about our self-management skills. Assign this prompt: What can suffering teach us? Students' responses can be based on their personal experiences, or they can respond after reading a novel such as The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater.
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