5 Ideas to Help You Bring SEL into Your Teaching

5 Ideas to Help You Bring SEL into Your Teaching

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5 Ideas to Help You Bring SEL into Your Teaching

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) involves cultivating interpersonal skills, self-awareness, and self-control, which are critical for success in school, careers, and life.

Strong social-emotional competencies enable individuals to handle daily challenges more effectively and to reap the benefits in social, professional, and academic contexts. By honing skills such as problem-solving, self-discipline, impulse control, and emotion regulation, SEL lays the groundwork for enduring positive impacts on children, adults, and wider communities.

Thanks to social and emotional learning, children thrive, schools excel, workplaces flourish, and societies strengthen.

1. Discuss the emotions as they surface throughout the day

Throughout the school day, students encounter emotions both from their readings and from interactions with peers. They also bring feelings from their personal and home lives. Addressing these emotions as they emerge is crucial. Use opportunities to discuss a character’s feelings from a reading passage or book, posing questions like:

  • How did these emotions influence the character’s interactions?
  • Did certain outcomes stem directly from these emotions?

By understanding how characters’ feelings shape their narratives, students can better reflect on how their own emotions influence their surroundings.

2. Encourage reflection

After completing tasks, assessments, or assignments, encourage students to reflect on their work. This SEL skill can be incorporated across all subjects, including math, reading, writing, science, and history. Prompt them with open-ended reflective questions:

  • What elements of this topic intrigue you further?
  • What stood out to you when [event] took place?
  • How did [specific SEL skill] contribute to your success in [event]?

By posing these reflection questions consistently, perhaps weekly, students can anticipate them and prepare accordingly, enhancing their learning experience.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide to Engaging Students in Classroom


3. Promote teamwork, discussion, and interaction

Even in this digital age, role-playing remains a valuable tool in the classroom. Start reading lessons where characters have distinct behaviors with role-playing activities. Illustrate how individuals can collaborate effectively and provide counterexamples of interactions best avoided. Such exercises prepare students for real-world social scenarios.

Intersperse cooperative group projects throughout the week, allowing students to practice relationship-building. Integrate these assignments naturally into daily lessons, ensuring students are always ready to collaborate.

Engage students in games like the “homophone fishing” exercise, enhancing their communication and interpersonal skills. Such activities present a perfect opportunity for teachers to let students spearhead discussions.

4. Encourage positive self-talk

Encourage practicing optimistic self-talk both when conversing with others and in personal reflections. Starting the day with uplifting sentiments like “Today is going to be a great day” can set the tone. Even in tough times, it’s essential to focus on the silver linings. Teachers can curate lists of affirmations or encourage self-talk phrases to inspire students.

5. Promote diversity

Begin discussions about diversity early in the educational journey to foster tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion. Dedicate time to explore and appreciate students from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities. By engaging in active listening and discussion, students can gain a richer understanding, recognizing their roles in the broader global community.

Also Read: Addressing teacher burnout: Tips for maintaining work-life balance

Few more ideas to bring SEL into teaching:

Include art in the classroom

Art and creativity offer powerful avenues to nurture social and emotional skills. Boost students’ self-awareness by encouraging them to craft self-collages. Drawing and painting serve as therapeutic outlets for managing stress. For fostering teamwork and interpersonal relationships, have students collaborate on a shared artwork.

Daily writing prompts

Prompt students to pen down their emotions. By maintaining a daily journal with prompts—such as recounting a challenging experience—students get a platform for introspection. Discuss the prompts collectively, spurring meaningful dialogue.

Include the student in the progress monitoring process

There are myriad ways to immerse students in skill assessment. When teachers emphasize progress tracking, students become more engaged. Tools like visual charts, monitoring notebooks, or online data dashboards enable students to keep tabs on their growth. After lessons or tests, they gain clarity on their performance. Together, teachers and students can chart and chase goals.

Check-In Questions:

Days can end in a whirlwind. Simple SEL exercises can streamline this transition. Dedicate a few moments every day for collective reflection. Discuss the day’s highs and lows, gauge student feelings, and lay out objectives for the next day. If pressed for time, try these quick SEL prompts:

  • Describe the kindest person you’ve met. What sets them apart?
  • Among rocks, wood, matches, and flames, which resonates with your current state?
  • Which food item in your fridge mirrors your current emotion?
  • Visualizing a challenge, what lies beyond the river for you?
  • Reflect on an impactful gesture from a teacher or supporter.


Social and emotional capabilities are cornerstones for students, both academically and in life. Recognizing and managing emotions, curbing impulses, clear communication, and synergizing with peers are skills that uplift overall wellness. The heartening part? Teachers can nurture these skills without needing specialized training.


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