Tips to Integrate Social and Emotional Learning into Your Teaching

By Huntington Learning Center

What is social emotional learning and is it something you should be incorporating into your teaching methods?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning explains that social and emotional learning is the process through which people acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to feel and show empathy, establish supportive relationships, make responsible decisions, achieve their goals and more.

These aptitudes are crucial in the school setting for obvious reasons. Social skills are an essential part of life. The ability to empathize and communicate with others helps students with things like self-advocacy, working in teams and contributing to group projects.

You can build these skills by starting small. Here are a few ways to integrate social emotional learning into your teaching:

  • Teach respect for one another. Establish a method of showing appreciation for one another, whether it’s an anonymous “compliments” bucket where students can say kind things about their classmates or an open dialogue each day.
  • Remind students that mistakes are normal. One of the tenets of social emotional learning is self-management, so it’s important that students recognize that striving toward big goals requires both discipline and perseverance. Students will make mistakes along the way. Normalize this, as it a good way to improve and learn.
  • Entrust your students. Responsibility is one of the key areas of social emotional learning, so make sure you give your students plenty of opportunities to make decisions and choose for themselves.
  • Group students together often. Relationship skills are a must in life. Have your students work in pairs and bigger groups. Get them talking. Facilitate discussions, even if the topics you choose are sometimes fun not academic. The point is to help students develop relationships with different people who might be outside of their normal social circle.
  • Take different perspectives. Students need to be socially aware and understanding of others’ viewpoints in school and elsewhere. When discussing things as a class, have your students practice active listening and discussion. Depending on the age of your students, you can modify your approach to help students put themselves in each other’s (and others’) shoes and think beyond their own life experience.

Social emotional learning builds a positive classroom culture while also increasing students’ confidence. Your students are the future. Even a little effort to incorporate some of these things can help them be more successful in your classroom and for years to come.