Social-Emotional Learning while Remote and Hybrid
No matter the role you play for students, you’ve likely come to appreciate the fact that social and emotional skills permeate just about every facet of the school experience (and life!). Because of this realization, many educators have been highlighting Social-Emotional Learning’s cornerstones—self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness—with students for years now. The curveball of remote learning has made SEL all the more important, but what we in education may be missing is not the what or how of social and emotional learning, but the who. Strong SEL for our students begins with relevant SEL for fellow educators. If the adults we are joining forces with don’t personally experience its power, teaching SEL to students is in danger of becoming just one more thing.
Here are some practical ways to help educators fold Social-Emotional Learning into their routine practices, for themselves and their students.
Remote learning can feel isolating. No secret there. This reality led many of us in education to embrace student check-ins wholeheartedly (and if you’re looking to add to your student check-in repertoire, try this free resource from the Indiana eLearning Lab). Adult check-ins, however, aren’t as frequently implemented. Whether it’s the sheer pace we as educators keep or the assumption that adults don’t need to pause and reflect on how they’re feeling, getting a pulse on how our colleagues are doing often falls to the wayside. But why should it? Consider quick, synchronous check-ins at the beginning of a meeting or asynchronous check-ins via staff emails. A poll with a tool like Mentimeter or Pear Deck is fast and free. You’ll not only get a read on everyone’s current frame of mind, but the simple act of checking in will communicate volumes to your team.
The organizational and goal-oriented aspects of SEL are sometimes overshadowed by the emotional elements. But if you think back to how you felt the last time you were disorganized or inefficient, you know emotions run high when we feel unproductive. Luckily, there’s a tech tool that can help you plan your work and work your plan: Google Keep.
If you’re not using Keep, it’s the Swiss army knife of tech tools that you didn’t know you needed (during remote learning and beyond!). You might be aware of its note-taking and list-making capabilities, but that’s just where the organization begins. You can capture your ideas with text, images, drawings, or even your voice. Because it syncs across all your devices and integrates with other Google Workspaces, you’ll be streamlining your processes faster than Marie Kondo can tidy up! Whether you’re looking to reflect, hold yourself or others accountable, get organized, or build communication, Keep has the built-in features to make it happen.
Digital teaching means our professional learning networks are more important than ever. No single person can evaluate all the edtech or new strategies all the time, so instead, buddy up! A strong PLN means having professionals to lean on and learn from. And whatever this looks like for you, model it for others. Love using Twitter to curate and contribute? Perfect. Have a collaborative doc where you and other educational leaders drop ideas? Great. Demonstrating how you utilize your PLN will underscore its benefits and practicality. And when more educators play an active role in their own professional learning networks, they are doing the critical relationship-building that’s a fundamental part of SEL.
All of those messages we received early in pandemic days to “find time for self-care” were well-intentioned, but they were also almost laughable. (Where exactly should we find this time? Is it hiding somewhere?). Instead of reworking your entire calendar to accommodate some new SEL practice, consider starting with a slice of time already spoken for. Beginning a faculty meeting with a simple tool like Wordwall, for example, is an element of fun that will help lighten things up for everyone. As an added bonus, when you model these types of short activities, you’re not just temporarily lightening the mood, you’re also giving teachers quick resources that they could implement with their students.
Written by Leslie Kiel
Professional Development Specialist
Five Star Technology Solutions