As teachers, we want our students to recognize and manage their social and emotional skills, besides learning the core content. Those capabilities are essential for their development, support effective learning, and are linked to positive outcomes.
Developing SEL Skills
The events of the last two years have emphasized the high priority of developing social and emotional skills. However, this is not something we need to add to our overfilled curriculum; many of us are already implementing strategies in our daily teaching practice and interaction with our students. When we do it, they show better attitudes and relationships with classmates as well as improved academic performance.
I frequently utilize cooperative learning strategies (e.g. taking turns and helping others) to contribute to the social and emotional development of the children in my class. A few days ago, for example, my students made posters about a story we had shared. They worked in groups of four and took responsibility for deciding who was the best for writing, drawing, or gluing. They also had to take turns doing their work and helping others, if necessary. The activity started with a whole-class conversation about the social aspects they were going to pay attention to while making the posters. Besides creating amazing pictures, the children worked on their social and emotional skills.
Skills and Goals in EZ Stickerbook
As usual, I used Skills and Goals in the EZ Stickerbook platform to reward social and emotional skills in my students and create individual achievements toward their goals. This time, the focus was on taking turns, making responsible decisions, and sharing responsibility. So I rewarded children for utilizing these skills through the goals interface.
One child wasn’t able to share responsibility with his group and another one was so excited about drawing that she had a hard time respecting turns. I set a goal for both of them to respect turns 5 days in a row. Later, that same week, I caught Georgina respecting her turn several times. The following week both children were able to complete the goal and were rewarded with a sticker.
This is only one example of how we can help our students grow socially and emotionally while doing learning activities, and emphasize the outcomes with incentives and rewards for SEL skills. The result will be beneficial for the children’s emotional health and also for their academic achievement.