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Practicing SEL Every Day with Routines

Last updated on February 25, 2022

When we are intentional about including SEL in our interactions as well as our instruction, we can better support student growth. By being intentional about how we approach SEL, we’re able to weave those “gut check” moments into our routines. Some of these routines are personal – habits we need to form. Others are teaching methods you can put into practice with students.

Erica Battle is a professional learning consultant for ICLE and she wrote a post in 2019 outlining four ways to implement social-emotional learning into your day to day activities with students. Her tips are broadly applicable to all ages and we want to highlight a couple items from her article.

1. Active Listening

As teachers, it’s easy to get into the classroom and talk at students. There are moments where we talk with students, but I know from my time in the classroom that there were often days where I did most of the talking and they dutifully sat quietly. Maybe some were listening.

I had to make an active effort to work more student talking time into my lessons. As I gained more experience, that became easier to do. After all, talking about content helps internalize those ideas and results in learning gains.

But talking is only half of the equation. If we’re not listening to our students, and if our students aren’t listening to one another, we’re missing out on an important component of SEL.

Battle says, “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.”

Pay attention to how you listen to your students. Are you truly listening? Or just hearing? Our own awareness of how we respond to others when they’re speaking to us helps us develop empathy and cooperative habits.

The same is true for your students.

2. Collaboration

One of the “magic teaching words,” collaboration can immediately improve a lesson or activity if done well. Battle argues that we need to give students not only chances to work together, but to also [understand] the perspectives of others (emphasis added).

This is why collaboration comes after we develop listening skills. If we cannot listen to and connect with someone, we cannot work together effectively on shared goals. Collaboration in the classroom depends on students hearing and working with one another – which means working with different perspectives – and that skill needs to be practiced.

There are a number of ways to do that, but some easy ones are role playing, getting-to-know-you activities, or forming arguments with one another. Each of these can happen within the context of the content for the day, so you’re not losing time out of something in order to do this instead. This happens within the learning space.

3. Planning for Success

The last piece Battle suggests is starting small by having students create a weekly goal and an action plan to accomplish the goal. These can be content goals (do well on an upcoming quiz or activity), personal goals (athletics, club competitions), or classroom goals (number of minutes reading).

Goal setting is introspective. We take time to reflect on our day or week and can set goals which drive our actions and behaviors. These goals can also become a baseline for decision making which helps shape behaviors and provides intrinsic motivation.

If you want to help with goal setting, we have some starter templates you could use with students.

  • Student Data Binder (Google Slides). Students have templated pages for unit standards including weekly goal setting, KWL charts, and reflective pages.
  • Weekly Goal Setting, ideal for elementary (Google Slides) (Seesaw). This template will allow your students to choose a weekly goal and record their progress throughout the week.  Make a copy to your drive if you would like to edit.  Send a forced copy to students so they can edit their own copy. 

The featured image is Day 147/365: Interview Schedule by wenzday01 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.

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