One of the most direct routes to teaching social emotional learning intelligence in the classroom (whether the official classroom or the teaching/learning experience of life, the “unofficial” classroom) is to address emotions as they arise. There is some difficulty in being able to identify, express and cope with those emotions without prior knowledge of what those feelings feel like or how they ultimately affect behavior. Teachers can provide a scaffolding for exploring those emotions that arise in particular learning situations by asking open-ended questions such as “how are you feeling right now?” or “do a quick body scan and notice how you feel.” Beginning at the kindergarten level (and sometimes extending up into adulthood!) the response might stop at “good” or “bad.”
To provide a broader vocabulary for students to select from for deeper self-understanding, teachers can read stories, role play, or provide activities exploring any number of these emotions with a non-specific audience (meaning the classroom rather than the individual experiencing that emotion, avoiding teacher bias. Should be noted here that emotions can be a function of culture at home, previous experiences, and even biological makeup, so teachers must be cautious to not pigeonhole students as having any particular one kind of emotion.) Examples of these exploratory lessons include discussions on identifying a “hurt” (what causes a hurt — i.e. name calling or exclusion– somatic symptoms, such as tension or nausea, and demonstration of tools to help to release that “hurt”, such as talking it out with a friend using non-accusatory statements.
Teachers can approach emotional learning much like they would approach reading comprehension – students can learn vocabulary and grammar rules as general foundational knowledge to then later apply in specific, individual situations.
For more information on SEL click here
Visit our Resources page for more resources.