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10 ways teachers promote social and emotional learning in their classrooms

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an essential part of learning and human development. SEL is how all young people and adults gain and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to cultivate healthy identities, handle emotions, and achieve individual and collective goals. And for students, a key cornerstone of developing SEL is the establishment of positive relationships with their teachers. When students experience supportive relationships with their teachers, they are also likely to feel more motivated and engaged in school and to perform better academically.

Check out these 10 ways teachers can promote SEL inside the classroom and create lasting impacts on their students:

1. Encourage reflection

After students complete a task, assessment, project, or assignment, teachers can encourage them to reflect on their progress. This SEL skill can be used across all curriculums, such as math, reading, writing, science, history, and more. Educators can even prompt students outside of the classroom through Along‘s reflection questions. Sending these reflection questions around the same time each week will help students know what to expect and let them plan for it.

2. Practice mindfulness

According to researchers with the Boston Charter Research Collaborative — a partnership between the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University (CEPR), MIT, and Transforming Education — mindfulness education in the classroom can reduce students’ sense of stress and lengthen attention spans. Meditation and quiet time are tools to help students face behavioral and academic challenges by reducing anxiety and giving them a new way to handle their feelings and emotions.

3. Create a quiet space

Sometimes we all need a break or time out in our day, and students are no different. Teachers can create a quiet room or space where students can go when they need an uninterrupted moment to pause. Allowing students opportunities to collect themselves shows caring and understanding of their emotional needs.

4. Encourage positive self talk

Exercise the use of positive thinking skills when talking about yourself and others — out loud. An easy way to start is with positive thoughts in the morning, such as, “Today is going to be a great day.” It’s important to highlight the positive, even in challenging situations or difficulties. Educators might create a list of positive self-talk statements or self-affirmations as encouragement for students.

5. Celebrate diversity

Starting discussions about diversity in early childhood education can help promote tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion for everyone. Take time to discuss and learn about people from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and abilities. Students need to hear, see, discuss, and understand that we are all part of a larger shared community.

6. Bring art into the classroom

Art and creativity are compelling ways to target social and emotional skills. Students can be encouraged to make a self-collage to help develop better self-awareness about who they are. Painting and drawing are positive coping strategies to control stress. Students can also work together on a shared picture to build collaboration and relationship skills.

7. Teach coping skills to manage stress

Managing emotions is something we all need to practice. Being open with students about managing their own emotions and providing strategies for what kids can do in the classroom is a great place to start. For example, “If you are feeling nervous about the test today, remember to use positive self-talk. Tell yourself that you’ve got this!”

8. Daily journal prompts

Students can express their emotions through writing. A daily journal with a writing prompt asking students to describe a frustrating situation provides space for self-reflection. As a group, students can then discuss the prompt and have an open conversation. Along’s Content Library provides several questions to help guide the dialogue.

9. Provide regular check-ins

Connecting with students one-on-one during a busy school day can be challenging. Along allows educators and students to connect when it’s convenient for them. Teachers can make time for quick reflections to communicate that they’re interested in learning more about their students to help build trust in the classroom.

10. Make SEL easier

Promoting SEL in the classroom is easier with Along. This digital reflection tool is designed to help educators make each student feel seen and understood. Along allows students to share quick reflections one-on-one with their teacher so they can open up about who they are and what’s really on their mind—without peer pressure.

With Along, educators get instant access to research-informed questions and ready-to-use resources. Students choose how to reflect—either over text, audio, or video messaging—on their own time and in their way. Learn more about Along’s research to provide a tool that supports teachers in building solid relationships with each student.

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