Find Time for Social-Emotional Learning

One of the best parts of being a teacher is having the opportunity to provide students with social and emotional skills (in addition to academic skills) that help them build and maintain positive relationships with their peers and significant adults in their lives. When we give students the academic skills they need, they develop academic growth sets and behaviors. Similarly, when we effectively teach students social and emotional skills, we equip them with positive attitudes that help them believe in themselves and in others.

Busy academic schedules can make it feel overwhelming to find the time to teach these skills, but when we weave them into academic content, Morning Meeting, Responsive Advisory Meeting, and Interactive Modeling, we can create a balance between academic and social-emotional learning. This kind of balance requires purposeful lesson planning. Here are some tips to help you fit social-emotional and academic learning into your schedule without adding stress to your life:

  • Set up a schedule to lesson plan: Meet with your disciplinary team and come together to plan how you can all integrate social-emotional skills so that the students will be practicing them during lessons.
  • Plan to plan: One day a week, set aside time to sit down and thoroughly think through your lesson plans. You may need to stay after school a little longer to prepare. For example, you might stay at school until 5:30 every Wednesday evening to work on lesson plans. Such a strategy comes with the added bonus of relieving you from having to think about the upcoming week’s lesson plan over the weekend.
  • Plan with intention: When you make out your lesson plans, think about how and when you can implement social-emotional competencies for students to practice. Make sure to use Morning Meeting or Responsive Advisory Meeting as an opportunity to teach and practice those competencies. Go through your plans and place “IM” under content, rules, or procedures that you can use Interactive Modeling to teach.
  • Time for reflection: Reflect on your progress. Do you need to switch up the ways you introduce and teach students social-emotional and academic skills?

As teachers, we already know how to model social-emotional skills, but we also need to teach students how important these skills are. Taking the time to teach these skills and practices will help students understand the value of learning and mastering them. Instead of treating the planning it takes to teach these skills as an added responsibility, trust that you are already doing it when you take the time to help students interact with each other and with academic content. Once you realize that this learning is already happening in your classroom, all you have to do is simply be more intentional when practicing it.

Tags: Professional Development

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