There is plenty of convincing evidence that supports the value of social-emotional learning (SEL). Research shows that it benefits children and adults alike, it helps fight teacher burnout and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been advocating for it as a tool to help improve youth mental health for years. So why aren’t more classrooms implementing it?
Finding ways to teach social-emotional learning skills without adding to teachers’ overwhelming workloads is crucial. D2L Brightspace can make it easy for students to improve their SEL-related skills in the classroom without adding to a teacher’s plate. In this blog, we’ll go over three specific tools that educators can harness to help their students improve their well-being through social-emotional learning.
What Is Social-emotional Learning?
Before we discuss how Brightspace supports social-emotional learning, let’s quickly recap what it means. Social-emotional learning—also known as social and emotional learning, or SEL—is a behavioral framework that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms to help students improve interpersonal skills and manage emotions.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a leading voice for the implementation of SEL, outlines five core competencies of the framework. These are, as described by CASEL:
- self-management: managing your own emotions, thoughts and behaviors
- responsible decision-making: intentionally building caring, constructive choices around your personal behavior and social interactions
- relationship skills: establishing healthy, supportive relationships and maintaining them
- social awareness: understanding others’ perspectives and being able to empathize
- self-awareness: understanding your own emotions and thoughts and how they influence behavior
Schools can help foster these competencies at any point in a student’s learning; they aren’t designated subjects. Using different edtech tools that improve these competencies is an easy and effective way to incorporate SEL in the K-12 classroom.
How Brightspace Supports the Core SEL Competencies
The best way to teach SEL in the classroom is by using tools that teachers already use in their lessons.
One effective tool that can support the SEL competencies is the survey tool. Daily or weekly, teachers can start their classes by having students complete a short survey to help them express how they’re feeling that day, encouraging them to practice self-awareness.
Questions that make students consider how their classmates might be feeling can also increase social awareness as students think about the things their peers are experiencing. This can also further reinforce their own self-awareness as they begin to understand that negative feelings can be universal and can impact anyone.
Collaborative tools that promote teamwork can help foster several different competencies if used intentionally. Take the Discussions and Group tools, for example. They can help students exercise the following SEL-related skills:
- Responsible decision-making: When working in groups, students must make decisions for themselves. This means that they need to pitch and discuss ideas before they begin and ultimately decide which direction to pursue in group work. When it comes to the division of labor, each student must take some responsibility and determine what sort of workload they can commit to.
- Relationship skills: Whether or not we realize it, working in a group takes practice. These collaborative tools allow students to improve their relationship skills in groups, understand how to disagree with one another and make decisions in a democratic way.
- Social awareness: In a public discussion, students will learn to navigate how to have civil discussions in front of their peers. This is an opportunity to understand how their own words make their peers feel, a lesson in empathy.
The Checklist tool provides opportunities to improve on several more SEL-related skills, chief among them being self-management. Teachers should include assignment, project and milestone due dates for tasks so students can plan accordingly, giving them the opportunity to hone their organizational skills and self-motivate.
Checklists can also help students improve their responsible decision-making skills. When equipped with a list of things to do, they can make their own decisions about the order in which to proceed. Checklists can also be used to roll out mindfulness activities, which students can check off as they go. This can help them get in touch with their emotions and affirm the positive things in their lives.
We know that social-emotional skills are important for students’ continued classroom success and that developing these skills doesn’t need to be difficult. Using tools that are already built into Brightspace can enable teachers to foster these vital skills without adding more things to their to-do lists.
Chase Banger is a Content Marketing Specialist at D2L. An award-winning journalist and former communications specialist, he has a passion for helping people through education.
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