What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “social emotional learning?” For some, it might be the mindset of doing what we can for students so they know how to handle emotions and be able to interact with their peers. For others, you might be thinking, “Suck it up buttercup. The real world isn’t going to care about your feelings.”
So which answer is correct? Shouldn’t we be teaching our students how to control their emotions by doing as much as we can as educators? Isn’t the purpose of sending students to school so that they learn how to function in the workforce?
Well, we’re here to offer the suggestion that perhaps both of these ideas are correct. School has become a safe place for more students than we realize. Some students are at school from 7:00am for breakfast until a grownup picks them up at 5:30pm from aftercare. Therefore, school is going to be a constant factor in developing the social emotional component to a child’s life. That said, it is also our job as educators to have solid policies in place so a student knows that certain behaviors deem certain consequences.
Right now, you might be wondering how in the world is this even possible? You signed up to be an educator because you wanted to teach fun math lessons and creative writing pieces. But at this point in the school year you are still putting out fires in regards to behavior and feel like not much teaching is being done. Guess what? That’s okay. We are doing our best to navigate this school year once again.
So let’s jump into the nitty gritty on how we can balance social emotional learning with definitive classroom expectations. If you feel like you are in an educational abyss, then try following these 3 Social Emotional/Classroom Management Systems to help get your classroom moving in the right direction.
Step 1: Always Have Clear and Explicit Expectations In Place
Whether you are teaching pre-K or eighth grade, your students need to know their boundaries. Be sure to establish routines with them from the beginning of the year and continue to follow those routines. If you have fallen off track, then pick yourself back up and start again. If students don’t comply with your routines, then have them do it over until it is done appropriately.
You will also want to be sure that consequences are made clear. Try having consequences posted in the classroom where they are visible to all students. The BEST piece of advice I ever received was from a former teacher, “Be firm, but fair.” If you can do that, then you are G-O-L-D-E-N!
Step 2: Incorporate Social Emotional Learning As Much As Possible
You would be amazed at how much we take for granted with our students in regards to expecting them to know how to behave. The truth is, A LOT of them simply don’t. We live in a digital, Amazon Prime, instant gratification world where students rarely have to wait their turn outside of school.
Think about it. Back in the good old days, you played outside with the neighborhood kids until the street lights came on. Then we moved towards a society that sets up playdates. Now our students head home and communicate through X-Box, TikTok, or their cell phones. With Facebook converting to Meta, this is more than likely going to make human interactions even less for our students. Scary!
So as educators, we need to put forth the effort to establish social emotional learning into our curriculum on a daily basis. How? Well, this can simply be done with a morning meeting. Have a greeter greet and a question of the day for students to answer. Let them each share their thoughts. While this is happening, then you can model to students the components of having a conversation. The power of a morning meeting can really leave lasting impressions on your students.
Goal 3: Positive Affirmations
Again, whether your students are in kindergarten or eighth grade they can be exposed to positive affirmations. Our words hold so much power towards how we feel, so why don’t we start modeling positive self-talk? Let’s teach students to pay attention to that warm feeling inside when they truly believe what they are saying.
How great would it be if every classroom had a mirror? Not only could this possibly assist you with having eyes in the back of your head, but it could also help to make affirmations to become more meaningful for your students. You could even incorporate this as part of your classroom meeting.
Can you imagine starting your day hearing all types of positive words and phrases from your students?!? It is so easy for our students to turn towards put downs of each other or act inappropriately towards a classmate, that it would be interesting to see the impact of consistently using positive affirmations in your classroom.
Hopefully you gained some insight into the importance of social emotional learning and how it can be incorporated into your day by using this 3 step system:
The goal of our educational system is to prepare students for 21st century life skills, of which communication and collaboration are major components. For as much as our world is already digital and the lack of social interactions we all had for about 18 months, we owe this time during our school day to our students.
There are so many resources that can be found on this topic all over the place. We are happy to help you find whatever you may need…it’s what we do. Feel free to reach out to us on Instagram or email ([email protected].) We love serving primary teachers and making their lives easier.
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