SEL Looks Like This (middle & high school)

Janna Nobleza
SEL, or social and emotional learning, focuses on who you are as an individual and the relationships you have with the people and world around you. Using SEL in middle schools and high schools should focus on three main elements:

1. The Classroom Environment
2. Tools to navigate their identity and self
3. Strategies for connecting with other people and the world around them

Let's explore these elements in more details.
First, the school and classroom environment. Teachers and administrators need to create a safe and caring learning environment where all students can feel a sense of belonging. Students are not able to learn about themselves fully or feel comfortable relating to others if they feel like their emotions are dismissed, they worry about being shamed or they don’t feel successful. You can create a safe and caring environment by bringing in culturally responsive and equitable teaching practices as well as finding flexible options so each of your students can achieve success.

Here is a tool you can use to create this environment:
Second, giving students the vocabulary and support they need to learn about themselves. This means teaching students about emotional awareness (and validating their emotions), developing tools so they can manage their emotions, learning about personal goal-setting, and reflecting on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Third, teaching students how to relate to the people and world around them. Teachers need to model good relationship skills and social awareness skills, and encourage their usage by giving ample opportunity for students to work in groups, be able to find a trusted adult when they need support, talk about their values and how to say no to negative peer pressure, and be empathetic.

When you walk into a classroom where a teacher is dedicated to SEL, you will find a peace space: students sitting in groups and working together, diverse cultures and identities represented on the posted classroom materials and curriculum, and a teacher who believes in teaching responsible decision-making. She doesn’t use punishment, shame, or embarrassment in their teaching practices but positively reinforces desired behaviors.

What does your SEL middle or high school classroom look like?

Want to learn more?

Check out our teacher workshops!

The Creating an SEL Classroom Environment and SEL-Aligned Classroom Management Strategies would be a good complementary workshop to this topic!
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