In the past, there was this assumption that social and emotional intelligence is either innate or intuitive. After all, humans are social beings, meaning they're supposed to adapt to the social environment. The problem is that, things aren't that simple. But, at least in modern society, one can use the concept of social-emotional learning to try and fix this problem.
To explain how this is supposed to work in practice, here are the top five examples of implementing social-emotional learning in the classroom.
The first major objective of social-emotional learning lies in helping kids develop self-awareness. This means helping them understand their emotions and thoughts and how their values and beliefs shape their opinions. Without understanding themselves, these individuals cannot establish a meaningful relationship with the world around them.
There are four key aspects of this self-awareness:
- Emotional awareness
To help with this, you could start a tradition of visual representation of one's emotions. Some classrooms develop emotion wheels or charts, which display various emotions through visual representations like smileys or illustrations.
However, specialists behind Livestream Learning Studio warn that stepping outside of one's main teaching style/strategy may not be as simple as it seems. So, doing some more research on the subject matter may be advised.
Then, you can further encourage this by assigning your students to make regular entries in their reflection journals. This reflective writing will reveal much about their own journey and experience.
Peer feedback can also be quite helpful. Sometimes, there's a disconnect between how we feel and how we express our emotions. Getting feedback from peers may help you see the correlation between the two and determine how effectively you express your memories.
Lastly, mindful check-ins make a difference by allowing your students to ask themselves a few vital questions and wait for the answer.
Acquiring self-management skills
Sometimes, we can't affect how we feel; however, how we act should always be under our control. This is what acquiring self-management skills is all about. People react differently to stressful or joyous occasions; attributing this to temperament or genetics is just lazy. Through SEL, students can learn skills regarding:
- Emotional regulation
- Impulse control
- Stress management
- Goal setting (and handling setbacks)
Problem-solving is one of the simplest ways to exercise this.
Another way of developing self-management skills is through emotion regulation techniques. One of the oldest and best-known ones is counting to ten or taking three deep breaths before responding.
Most importantly, you need to teach kids about daily planning and goal-setting.
Now, the examples of classroom implementation are far more difficult than anything you could have attempted in the classroom. Why? Well, first of all, because while you're always feeling something, the frustration from these exercises will always be a simulation. For instance, when problem-solving, you're just imagining a problem, which causes a completely different mental state. Still, it can be quite helpful in many different ways.
Enhancing their social awareness
For young children, it's not intuitive or logical that other people have different perspectives. This is a cognition that they need to develop and a notion that they should embrace. The best way to do so would be through the right social-emotional problem backed up by real-life examples.
This should help young learners develop empathy and learn to look at things from other people's perspectives. They also need to embrace that just because something is different doesn't automatically make it wrong. This will make them more diversity-sensitive, essential in today's diverse worlds.
While diversity is important, they also need to understand the social norms and cues of the society that they live in.
Most importantly, they need to learn how to actively listen.
Many great ways exist to implement this in the classroom, but several incredibly effective techniques exist.
A debate in which each participant is supposed to represent the other person's actual belief is a great example of this. If you give them time to research the topic and come up with good arguments, they'll develop a better understanding of the other party.
Learning about relationships skills
Relationship building (or networking, as the self-improvement community likes to call it) is an essential skill for anyone living in human society. Whether in the workplace, at a family gathering, or on the playground, you must learn how to handle a relationship. Teaching this from the youngest age must be an SEL priority.
Fortunately, this one is the easiest to implement in the classroom. Every group project is a chance to learn and improve their relationship-building skills.
Conflict resolution is a great chance for this because it's organic, happens spontaneously, and you won't have to emulate or wait too long for a conflict to break out. Then, by mediating the right way or even assigning one of their peers to mediate and supervise, you could create an optimal learning environment.
Naturally, the social awareness we discussed in the previous section also plays a huge part.
Teaching them how to approach decision-making in a responsible way
Now, that one's a mouthful, but it's important that you transfer this one onto them for several reasons. First of all, there's nothing intuitive about this. This is a process that some people adopt through experience (through trial and error), while others need a more systemic approach.
The necessary steps for this are:
- Identifying the decision
- Gathering information
- Considering the ethical aspect of the decision
- Coming up with the alternatives
- Evaluating the consequences of each alternative (including the original decision)
- Making a decision
- Learning from the decision
- Owning up to your decision (good or bad)
Ultimately, this is one of the more problematic ones since it requires trust in your students, which many teachers don't have. This is something that should change in the future. SEL might be this turning point.
Teaching SEL is so important because these are things that your students can benefit from, regardless of what they do or which path they take in life. It's just universally applicable to every relationship, dilemma, and situation. So, no pressure!