The importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has become even more evident as educators, parents, and students navigate the effects of the pandemic on student academic achievement and well-being. You know the evidence-based gains that come from teaching, developing, and using social and emotional skills are clear.
But the foundations of SEL – confidence, voice, growth – have always been key to boosting learner engagement, in-class or virtually. Below are three SEL strategies you can employ with your students now to boost engagement.
- Build connections. Research has demonstrated just how vital school and teacher connections are for students. Students who feel connected to their school are less likely to skip school or have disciplinary issues and are more likely to succeed academically as well as graduate. Building connections means positive teacher-student relationships but also positive student to student relationships.Establish norms for student behavior in your classroom (how class members are expected to treat one another). Get to know students individually and provide one-on-one time with them when possible.Build time into your schedule to talk about non-academic or school-related things. Providing emotional support to your students is so important and will help pave the way for their success at school in years to come.
- Create a safe learning environment. A safe environment is one in which students can depend upon consistency. Create safe, predictable routines like displaying class schedules and letting students know when something out of the ordinary will occur. Make a welcoming environment – ask yourself if your classroom is one where all children can be “seen”. Never tolerate bullying, teasing, and other put-down behavior at any time in the classroom. Implement a “zero tolerance” policy for anything disrespectful, hurtful, or intolerant of diversity. Listen actively and validate your students’ feelings and/or concerns. When you take time to teach skills such as self-advocacy, time management, and coping strategies, students feel like they belong and experience reduced stress.
- Provide the opportunity for real-world application. Students need role models. Take advantage of your virtual learning space to invite different people to the “classroom” as a resource for students. Search out people that are different from yourself that might share certain qualities with your students. Students may be more apt to listen and learn from other “teachers” when they see a connection with that individual.
SEL is vital in providing students the tools to overcome obstacles and learn to their fullest potential. And these teacher practices offer students emotional support and create opportunities for students’ voice and autonomy to promote student engagement in the educational process. Next week, we wrap up our deep dive on strategies and resources provided in our recent webinar with a look at how blended learning can increase learner engagement.
The Mosaic by ACT Team