6 Ways Teachers Can Integrate Social-Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning is vital; it gives students an essential life skill. These skills include building confidence, making decisions, connecting in social situations, working with others, understanding their own abilities, and improving relationships.

Social-emotional learning is important to help boost emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, this aspect of learning is often neglected in favor of academic subjects.

There are ways to embed these skills into your existing teaching so they’re not forgotten. These six methods work in the classroom but you can also use them with distance learning.

Read on to learn how to use social-emotional learning in your teaching.

1. Let Students Practice Problem Solving

When students have problems, it can be tempting to try and solve them straight away. Teachers often jump in to give children the answer so they don’t get frustrated and give up.

Yet encountering problems provides an opportunity to put social-emotional learning into practice. Let the students figure out how to find an answer before you step in.

A great piece of teaching advice is to introduce the Brain, Book, Buddy, and Boss system. This is a simple approach that also teaches students to be independent learners.


First, the student should think about the problem. What solutions come to mind? They might use mind maps at this stage. This also helps them to process any frustration so they can manage their emotions.


Does the student need to look up the answer? They might access books or digital sources at this point to solve the problem.


Can they solve the problem with the help of a friend or classmate? This is an excellent chance for them to practice working with others.


Finally, if they haven’t solved it by now, they can come to you. Often, students will solve their problems during the first three stages. If they come to you ask, “Have you looked, asked, and then tried with a friend?”

This approach is a great way to build motivation in your students. It goes beyond their grades and addresses how they tackle their learning.

2. Use Journal Writing Every Day

Various studies have shown the health benefits of daily journaling. This practice is also a great alternative teaching method for social-emotional learning.

Choose a point in the day for independent writing, and either offer or ask students for a journal prompt. Use a separate social-emotional learning notebook if you can.

You can tie this activity to what they’re recent studies or projects. Before you move onto a new subject, ask them, “What was your biggest challenge for this task? How might you overcome that?” “When did you feel accomplished and why?”

Other prompts might help them explore what they learned and how they approached their work. This gives them the chance to review their learning but also practice their SEL skills.

Let the children discuss these prompts with their classmates. Their classmates can offer new perspectives or insights.

Your students can practice their writing skills while sharing sentiments with others. With practice, children become more willing to reveal their emotions and show their vulnerability. They also celebrate their achievements.

Use Journals to highlight the emotions expressed by others

As an extra activity, pose questions during specific subjects. If you’re reading a book, start discussions about how characters might feel. Prompt students to examine possible thoughts the characters might have and the actions feelings might prompt.

You can also use this when considering historical figures. It’s an excellent way to promote SEL awareness and empathy. This also helps children understand the feelings and thoughts of others.

You can add other forms of journaling into your teaching day. These approaches are great at helping students sharpen their awareness skills, get their thoughts in order, and label their emotions.

3. Use Group Work

Group work gets students to practice their social-emotional learning. It teaches them that they don’t need to be able to do everything on their own and that two or more heads are often better than one.

Using group tasks also teaches children how to work with others. Appoint leaders in each group who must further delegate tasks to others. This helps students pinpoint their ability to bring out the best in others. Can they inspire and be inspired by others?.

It’s a great way to teach students to take personal and collective responsibility. Also, group work lets you embed multisensory teaching into your approach.

4. Hold Class Meetings

Building a community in your classroom is a vital way to use SEL strategies on a regular basis. Holding meetings with the students is a simple way to do this.

You might have a short meeting every morning as a warm-up for the day. Or you may hold them once a week. You might break in the middle of the day and ask students to think about how things are going and what interactions lead to a feeling of accomplishment. 

Use these meetings to highlight progress, solve problems, or plan activities. Introduce various processes so children begin to differentiate their approach to learning.

It’s also an opportunity for you. Becoming a better teacher means knowing you don’t need to have all the answers. Let your students take the lead; let them crowdsource answers from each other.

Begin tomorrow by greeting your students at the classroom door and say goodbye to each at the end of the day. Ask them how their day is going/has gone. This is important,  it’s a human need to feel seen and acknowledged.

5. Model and Use Positive Self-Talk

Students are used to hearing a lot of negative self-talk. This is often present in their favorite video games and films, or even in their homes.

Negative self-talk can lead children to set low expectations or get frustrated with themselves. One way to combat this is to purposefully use positive self-talk.

Doing so provides a form of reassurance and self-soothing. This helps children manage their emotions and compose themselves in all situations.

Encourage your students to use positive self-talk when engaged in tasks. Model positive self-talk by speaking your thoughts and identifying your options out loud when dealing with the challenge.

6. Focus on a Growth Mindset

Teach your students the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. Focus on the aspects of developing a growth mindset, and encourage students to adopt one.

This will make children more resilient and better able to cope with frustration. It can also help them to study harder, meet challenges, and achieve their goals.

One way to inspire a growth mindset is to ask your students to reflect on the work they’ve done. They can identify what they did well, but also what they would improve next time. This teaches them there is always space to grow and helps them to evaluate their own work. It often helps them overcome the need for perfection.

Embed Social-Emotional Learning in All Classroom Tasks

There are endless ways to embed social-emotional learning skills within your lessons. These six methods are easy to add to what you’re already doing.

They also layer well, so you can mix and match methods depending on your students. Adding these alternative teaching methods is as important as Math or English skills.

Karen is dedicated to building better learning environments that equip students with both education and life skills. For tips and mentorships, get in touch today.

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