Implement Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in your virtual and hybrid classrooms with these 5 Tips & Tricks
This week’s blog post is brought to you by a very special elevatEd Teacher-in-Training, Taylor Fussner. Taylor is currently completing her coursework in a Teacher Credential program, which includes various forms of observation and field experience, in addition to contributing to elevatEd Classrooms. We are honored to share her Tips and Tricks to Support SEL Online with you!
SEL 1) Check Ins
Check Ins are an important way to gauge how your students are feeling each day. In the physical classroom, you would be able to assess students’ moods when they walk in (body language) or when talking to them during homeroom time. Online, this looks a little different. Here are a few online Check In tools that I lean toward using. You can create a short Google Forms or Poll Everywhere survey for students to respond in real time. If you are using a Pear Deck, you can also add a mood survey (shown through emojis) at the beginning when students join the session. These virtual Check Ins are private and keep how students are feeling between you and them.
SEL 2) Morning Meetings
The one main aspect of in-person learning that I feel many students are missing online- interaction with peers. Humans are social creatures and school is traditionally the main way that young students interact with people in their own age groups. Yes, we do have social media, but it is not the same as being able to have a full conversation and it is harder for students to create new friendships. To remedy this problem, have students sign on to Zoom a little early and allow them time to talk to each other before getting started for the day. This will also help with virtual classroom management as students have time to get out what they want to say before beginning the lesson.
SEL 3) Brain Breaks (especially off the computer)
Brain Breaks are not a new idea, but they become increasingly important the longer students are learning online. To begin with, young learners are processing so much information throughout the day. Learning is not easy work! Plus, after sitting at the computer for long periods of time, students can become fidgety. I know that I do even as an adult! Whenever you can, it can be great to give students brain breaks in between lessons, especially the kind of breaks that get students away from the computer. You can have students participate in a quick scavenger hunt or ask them to do ten jumping jacks before returning to the computer. Anything that gets them up and moving!
SEL 4) Flexibility
Flexibility is an essential trait to be a teacher – even more so now with virtual and hybrid students. When you are noticing misbehavior or missing work, do not forget to take into account that this is a difficult time for students as well. Just because we are not in lockdown does not mean the pandemic and the stresses accompanied by it have disappeared. Flexibility is the foundation of empathy, and flexible teaching should continue beyond COVID.
SEL 5) Mindfulness
Mindfulness is increasingly important in face-to-face, hybrid, and online school. Students have big emotions that they may not know how to identify and address. If you have time midday or at the end of the day, see if you can incorporate a quick focus on mindfulness. Teachers can help students practice mindfulness techniques such as Reflection, Active Engagement, and guided breathing. There are many great mindfulness videos for students on YouTube, my favorite of which are the ones created by ClassDojo. These are geared toward younger learners, so make sure to pick an activity that will fit your unique class best! Regardless, teaching mindfulness will help your students to deal with any adversities that they may face now and in the future.
*Bonus SEL* Communication
Communication is also increasingly important as we Reimagine School. Allow students and parents ways to contact you through email and phone. I like Google Voice because it provides you with a free separate number that students and parents can call and text. This allows you a separate line from your personal number while still providing students and parents with a quick way to contact you.
It is important to support your own boundaries too while you support your educational community!