Welcome to VirtualSEL

Hello Educators! Thank you for taking the time to read about including SEL in your distance learning curriculum. I promise I will not take too much of your very precious time - I have structured this to be bare bones, giving you only a bit of 'lesson' and focusing instead on practical tips for including social and emotional learning into your virtual classroom.

If very short on time, I will not fault you for skipping the course materials and jumping straight to the student activities to use immediately in your classrooms! You can find them collected together in my 'Cliffs Notes.'

If you are here, my guess is you already know enough about social and emotional learning to want to incorporate more into your classroom. For anyone who doesn't, and has somehow wandered here anyways, here is my 'Beginner's Guide to SEL.' When I wrote it, I was still using the CASEL framework, which is an excellent introduction to social and emotional learning, often considered the 'gold standard' of SEL. These days, I am using my own framework, MUSE, which structures SEL into the following four categories:

Modeling Behaviors

Understanding Emotions

Social Skills

Emotional Regulation

If interested, you can read more about my framework and how it compares to other leading frameworks here. The most unique aspect of my framework is a focus on modeling, based on the belief that teachers must learn and practice these skills themselves in order to authentically model them.

One fundamental truth that teachers often come across early in our career is that it is difficult to effectively teach academics while ignoring a child's emotional and mental status. Children who are stressed, anxious, frustrated - or any other overwhelming emotion - are not able to make use of their full cognitive functions. The academic benefits of addressing students' social and emotional needs are well documented. Encouraging children to understand and express their feelings, as well as practicing emotional regulation skills, will make them better students, test takers, and more likely to graduate high school.

Optional Teacher Activity: Take a minute to click on this link to our class 'Feelings Board.' Think about how you are feeling right now and write your name under an emotion (pseudonyms are perfectly fine!). If none of these suit you, feel free to add your own. Please resist the urge to comment on anyone else's feelings. The feelings board promotes self awareness, allows students to see they are not alone in feeling both positive and negative emotions, and allows teachers to be more aware of students who are in a negative space.

Feelings Board: Make a feelings board for your own students. You can do this using Padlet as I did, using your own digital tools...or simply make it an activity at the start of classroom chats, having every student share with one word how they are feeling.

Next Up: A syllabus of topics for this course.


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