5 Ways Teachers are Already Nurturing SEL in Their Classrooms

It's Teacher Appreciation Week! There is no better time to extend an infinite note of gratitude to all you educators for your relentless pursuit to magnify your students' strengths – illuminating their unique gifts and skills. Despite the challenges of these past few years, teachers have continued to rise to the occasion, collectively coming together to meet the ever-changing needs of children and nurture their growth. These efforts are not only pivotal in students' academic interests but essential to the core of their overall self-concept and social-emotional health.  

So, what makes a great teacher? As educators, we tend to think back and reflect on the teachers who made a significant difference in our lives. Typically, these very teachers are the reason we pursued education as a profession. Their ability to make us feel valued, empowered, and safe is what mattered; it is what sets them apart and continues to positively influence our professional orientation. It's the heart work that went beyond the curriculum – the intentional social-emotional practices and lessons interwoven into classroom norms and activities.

So, teachers! We want to celebrate you for all the ways you already nurture SEL in your classrooms!

★ Welcome and Goodbye Routines

Intentional check-in practices allow students to gain an understanding of their emotions as well as time to work on core SEL strategies and competencies - like self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship building. The utility of self-expression is an invaluable skill as children move through life and navigate change. Connecting and engaging with learners in this way provides a safe space to explore and reflect on emotions in themselves and others and empowers them to feel confident naming their emotions.

SEL Activities

✦Check out Sloth's Meeting and Greeting New Friends activity
✦Check out Self Expression with Lynx Unit Plan

★ Story Time 

Story time broadens a student's imagination, piques interest, and supports social-emotional development. Gathering around for a story allows learners to connect with their peers while collectively transporting to new worlds, free to explore and discover characters, places, and events. Reading stories from our educator books to students is also an effective way to instill positive lifelong virtues like kindness, honesty, compassion, courage, and generosity. Students are learning to express their own thoughts and emotions through imaginative narratives. Their sense of self is also emerging, fueled by the lessons and experiences they've gleaned through storytelling. 

Read Aloud Tool

✦Check out Novel Effect. Novel Effect is a wonderful resource to add an extra sensory layer to story time. As you narrate, the story comes to life with music and sound effects that elevate the learning experience for learners.

★ Group/Partner work

Classroom group and partner work are infused with key SEL concepts, including helping students set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others and cultivate positive relationships. These interpersonal opportunities allow students to observe others and thus, understand different communication styles, perspectives, and world-views. Collaboratively coming together to problem-solve and work towards a collective objective, learners strengthen their emotional awareness and empathy for others. 

Slumberkins SEL Curriculum 

✦Check out Emotional Courage with Ibex Unit Plan
✦Check out Building Connections with Otter Unit Plan

★ Art/Imaginative Play

Learning is enriched when imaginative play and creativity are promoted in the classroom, and a student's emotional well-being is nourished. Art, play, movement, and music, allow students not only to uniquely express themselves but connect with others, foster problem-solving skills, and build lasting relationships. Encouraging a learner's curiosity and exploration promotes feelings of self-confidence and self-worth -essential to healthy social-emotional development.  

Free SEL Activities

✦Get Creative with Dragon
✦Check out Confidence Crew Finger Puppets 

★ Comfort Corner 

Comfort corners in classrooms help students build up their inner resilience. It can be challenging for young learners to learn how to effectively communicate feelings and emotions; thus, designated safe spaces are an invaluable resource for practicing self-regulation, mindfulness, and emotional identification. These key foundational SEL skills support students' ability to reach more successful outcomes in social and learning environments and make responsible decisions. 

Slumberkins SEL Curriculum and Resources

✦Check out Mindfulness with Yeti Unit Plan
✦Check out Slumberkins Comfort Corner

Thank you, Teachers, for all your efforts to help students reach their full potential! 

We SEE you and appreciate you!  

We encourage you to reflect on what inspires and motivates you as an educator. It's important to remember your why to continue to put your best self forward. Additionally, think about how you care for yourself as you selflessly care for your learners. We know that extending kindness and compassion to ourselves supports our ability to better serve our students.

✔ Think of a teacher who made a positive impact on your life. How did they make you feel? How did you feel seen in their classroom?

✔ Think about making that same impact on your current students, those in the past, and your 

future students' lives. How are you supporting their positive self-concepts?

Now –

✔ Think of your favorite way to decompress after a long workday. How do you ground yourself and connect to those you love? What brings you joy?

✔ Make a commitment to yourself to honor your emotional wellness and take time for self-care. There is no doubt you deserve that sacred time to unwind and recharge. 

Heidi Uhrich, NCC, School Counselor 
Slumberkins, Community Relations Coordinator

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