By Krista Walker
The landscapes of our classrooms have undoubtedly been changed this past year. Educators around the globe have been inspiring, demonstrating innovation and creativity in remote and hybrid classrooms. Technology has been at the forefront of lesson planning, design, and delivery allowing teachers to teach and students to learn.
While we have learned to navigate platforms to deliver academic lessons, there continues to be a need to embed Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in the remote and hybrid classrooms. How do we support, nurture, and build up these skills when oftentimes students feel disconnected?
With the challenges already faced, embracing yet another strategy can feel like ‘one more thing to do.’ But with thoughtful integration and intentional design, we can nurture emotions, set and achieve goals, and establish and maintain positive relationships in the virtual classroom.* Let us begin with what we CAN do.
Build a Conducive Environment
Practice and model a growth mindset, providing opportunities to explore and share individual and classroom community ideas, values, and identities. Create a conducive environment where students feel valued, have a voice, and all learning is celebrated. The simple act of checking in with students daily can provide valuable insights into students’ emotions and create an environment of understanding and empathy.
Develop Authentic Relationships
Develop honest and authentic relationships. The reality is we all have a need to feel connected and recognized. Take time during lessons to make real-world connections, honor cultures and backgrounds, and promote empathy and understanding. Employ spontaneous teachable moments during conversations, learning, and feedback, reinforcing SEL skills modeled, and acknowledging both accomplishments and mistakes.
Employ Thoughtful Modeling
To model effectively, our own expectations need to be defined. Think about what SEL looks like, sounds like, and feels like in your classroom. Does it look like students are engaged with cameras on? Does it look and sound like active participation in lesson discussions? Could it sound like a “Thank you” at the end of responses? Does it feel like a collaborative space where each individual is valued and respected? As you reflect, think about how to model this throughout your lesson facilitation sessions. Offer students choice in how they will engage; be honest when technology may send your lesson sideways; model respect, appreciation, and inclusivity; and verbalize and recognize positive actions when you see it.
Plan and Practice
As you plan, take time to assess your strengths and areas to develop as you promote SEL through virtual learning.
Social and Emotional Learning can be immersed through all areas of class activities facilitation. The beginning moments of class, during transitions, within a lesson, as a close to the class period or day, or even when students could benefit from a break, are all opportunities to practice these essential skills. Technology can be a valuable asset to provide meaningful activities within your classroom. Explore these options to bring SEL into the virtual setting:
- Guided practices using plug and play lessons developed for classroom use
- Embed mindfulness into lesson delivery through slide transitions and animations
- Add music to a lesson, linking to a slide or presentation
- Digital notebooks for gratitude or reflection journals
- Collaboration boards for daily affirmations or check-ins
- Artistic representation, using video, audio, and/or art apps to represent student voice and choice in how they demonstrate understanding
While there are many ways to incorporate Social and Emotional Learning into the classroom environment, it is imperative that SEL learning remains front-of-mind and purposeful. Students and educators alike need to feel connected, valued, and recognized. It is not an all or nothing approach — these are lifelong learning strategies. Finding those small but meaningful opportunities can make a lasting impact in the classroom and beyond.
If you are interested in using your technology to better support SEL in your classrooms, Boxlight-EOS has developed a SEL professional development training opportunity. See below for details.
Technology to Support Social and Emotional Learning
Description: Understand the technology tools to engage students and develop their social and emotional skills through lessons that encourage the key competencies of SEL. Learn to integrate these skills into the digital environment through planned activities and guided practices.
- One-Hour Introduction (Virtual)
- Two-Hour Training (Virtual)
- Five-Hour Deep Dive Workshops (Virtual or In-Person)
* “What Is SEL?” Casel, 2017, casel.org/what-is-sel/