Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning In the Classroom
May 24, 2019

Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Education does not have to limit itself to just the lecturing and intake of information. In fact, learning goes beyond books and there are many ways to encourage it. Through many observations, arts-infused techniques can help students focus and connect with others around them. When it comes to education, incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) can lead to motivation and excitement in the classroom. Also, it promotes individuality, mindset growth, and collaboration.

Benefits of SEL

Social and emotional learning goes much further than connecting with others. In fact, it allows us to connect with ourselves. Ultimately, being able to know what enhances our abilities will lead to improvements in our work. So, some activities that encourage SEL include listening to music or even dancing.Renton Prep holds an annual dance performance. It is important to note that this performance is more than showcasing students’ artistic abilities. It also stresses the importance of collaboration and self-expression through dance. Read our previous post about the importance of dance in school. Dance is a reflection of self-awareness, as students pay attention to how their bodies feel as they move and connect to their emotions.

This year, our students had the opportunity to take the lead and collaboratively choreograph some of the pieces they performed. They were not only able to showcase their skills, but also tell a story. The theme of the dance program this year was Nostalgia with Purpose. The aim was to bring back the sounds and looks of the original Big Band show era and Harlem Renaissance.

“This year is also looking at nostalgia from a lens of remembering the two decades of intentional dance education and research as part of our school’s curriculum for all students, and looking forward to new advancements and ongoing transformation in our school.”

Dr. Michelle Zimmerman

SEL Activities for Students

Arts-infused exercises are not only engaging but they also link to improvements in social and emotional learning. Participating in activities where students can use their senses is a great way to encourage collaboration and growth. Here are some ideas, other than dancing, that will inspire SEL in the classroom.

Begin the Day with Encouragement

The first step to a great day is solidifying that it will be. For most students, the first social encounter they may experience with others apart from their families is when they arrive at school. Allow your students to always feel welcome and at home. Greet them as they walk in and make it a goal to begin each day with a personal connection. Even a simple smile can lead students to look forward to the day ahead of them.

Nurture a Kind Atmosphere

Ask students how they are feeling. Be kind and encourage them to share that kindness with others. One way of doing this is by allowing your students to raise their hands and inspire the class with something that’s on their heart. Give them the space to express themselves. Whether it’s through a class discussion, storytime, or one-on-one interaction, this is yet another great door to social and emotional learning.

Build and Promote Collaboration

Working with others is where the social aspect of social and emotional learning jumps in. In fact, this can also boost the emotional connection too. Create many opportunities for students to engage in collaboration. For example, you can have activities like the following:

  • Group improvisational skits – create fun scenarios for students to play, see more below.
  • Play games – Pictionary or Charades is great for students to interact and work in teams.
  • Class discussion – pick a topic students can discuss to engage more with lessons.

The quality of being able to work well with others will take students far in their future careers. Collaboration does not necessarily need to be in large groups. Partnerships between two students will introduce opportunities to develop individuality and cooperation as well. Overall, collaboration helps to develop leadership proficiency, negotiating skills, and community within the classroom.

Engage in Role play

Role play is an excellent way of understanding different perspectives. Students are able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and administer new points of views. For example, teachers can put together skits or assign students reading cards that share character emotions. Activities like these help students build empathy, understanding, and social awareness for their peers.

Use Music to Influence Focus

Music profoundly affects our mood. Different genres of music trigger a different reaction to our brains. Playing calm, soothing music during classwork time can help students creatively articulate their thoughts. It blocks out distractions and serves as background noise that allows students to work at a pace.

A Little Goes a Long Way

We can train our students now to be great future leaders and developers. These easy ideas, if incorporated on a regular basis, can definitely guide students through a successful and enjoyable educational career. At Renton Prep, we don’t want school to be something students dread. It should be a time and a place where they feel driven to learn and expand their intellectual capacity. To learn more about our school and our approach, contact us today.