School today is about more than teaching content standards. Honestly, it is about preparing students for life. While states dictate what students need to learn each year, teachers know so much more is needed. For instance, students need to learn how to build relationships with classmates. Additionally, they need to learn to socialize with others and compromise through difficulties. Essentially, incorporating social-emotional learning in the classroom is the ideal way to help students prepare for life. Thankfully, there are many social-emotional learning activities to help reach all students.
Lesson plan books often break down the academic portions of the day. Hence, teachers can become frustrated when something else needs done. Honestly, there is not enough time in the year to get through everything as it is. Thankfully, social-emotional learning activities do not need a new “spot.” Instead, they can be incorporated into daily instruction and discussion seamlessly. By doing this, students will work on their content standards while also learning how to open up and handle emotions. Thankfully, incorporating social-emotional learning in the classroom will strengthen lessons and increase engagement.
Social-Emotional Learning Activities
There are so many ways to embed social-emotional learning into daily lessons. However, teachers know their students, communities, and classrooms best. Therefore, this process will look different for everyone. However, there are some great tips and suggestions to get started below.
1. Daily Social-Emotional Writing Prompts
Often, students are hesitant to open up in front of all classmates. Thus, writing prompts create the perfect way to help students release some emotions and open up comfortably. These prompts help students think deeply and critically about various social-emotional learning topics. For instance, students will focus on self-love in February and coping strategies in December. Thankfully, these prompts help students practice writing skills at the same time!
2. Morning Meetings
Teachers work so hard to help students develop relationships with each other. Additionally, there is always a focus on gaining empathy and support for classmates. Beginning the day with a morning meeting is incredibly helpful. In this format, students all come together to talk. A quick prompt is often on the board for students to answer. Then, students all share. By doing this, students see similarities they have with other classmates that they may not have known about. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for everyone to share and participate with no worry about answering wrong. Honestly, quick morning meetings create powerful results in social-emotional learning.
3. Brain Breaks for social emotional learning activities
Do you ever need a short break in the day? For instance, do you check your phone at lunch? Or, pull out a book for a few minutes? Many times, teachers just need a short break to reset. However, the same applies to students! Unfortunately, they rarely get this time. Therefore, implementing brain breaks allows students to manage emotions and de-stress. Then, they can continue learning and work on content with a fresh mindset.
4. ELAR Passages
Reading passages allow students to work on reading fluency and comprehension. However, they also improve empathy, understanding, and compassion. The reading passages can often help show students how to release frustration appropriately, build trust, and communicate with others. Thus, helping build their social-emotional learning capabilities.
5. Writing Time
Many times, students have something they need to share. However, it is hard for them to find the time and space to do this with many classmates around. Hence, providing an open write time is an excellent way for students to open up. I love to dim the lights and put on soft music to help create a relaxing environment. Then, teachers can read the responses and help students, as needed. Or, students simply have time to write about whatever they want. Honestly, students will look forward to this time whenever provided.
Why use social-emotional learning activities now?
Truly, it is more important than ever to focus on taking care of our student’s social-emotional needs. Life is so different from when we were growing up. Now, students are surrounded by technology at a young age. It often contains new videos, challenges, and content aimed at older students. Therefore, there is a massive increase in bullying, hate crimes, and hurtful actions. Furthermore, many students are experiencing challenging situations at home. Consequently, they need help to learn how to handle emotions and interact with others. Ultimately, students need social-emotional learning activities to have the confidence to be themselves and handle obstacles in life.
Social-emotional learning activities do not have to take away from valuable class time. Instead, these activities can easily tie into content classes! Ultimately, students can learn about relationships, decision-making, and self-management while focusing on academics.
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