Happy summer! For most teachers, school is out, and you’re about to enjoy a few months of sun, fun, and relaxation. And if you’re like many educators, you won’t stop working just because your students aren’t in your classroom. You might be researching curriculums, rearranging your desk setup, or attending professional development sessions to continue to hone your craft.
While I hope you’re getting a break this summer, if you’re using some of your time in search of ways to help this fall’s new batch of students be successful, I suggest continuing to learn about social-emotional learning (SEL). We know from many studies that SEL has a multitude of positive impacts on students, including improved self-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. These new skills tend to stick with kids, and they often have the added benefit of increasing academic achievement.
While students might get some informal SEL education at home, they will probably only encounter direct lessons on SEL in the classroom. So if you’re doing some professional reading this summer, deepening your knowledge of SEL and mindfulness is a great way to go.
Here are 5 SEL books for teachers to read this summer:
Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning:
What Does the Research Say?
Edited by Joseph E. Zins, Roger P. Weissberg, Margaret C. Wang, Herbert J. Walberg
While we know how effective SEL is, there is a lot of hype around it right now. It’s important to know why we teach what we teach, and this book takes a deep dive into the research surrounding SEL. Not only can it help us understand how and why SEL works, it can also provide us with information to explain SEL to the parents and families of our students.
Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children
By Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh has been teaching mindfulness for decades. His book provides activities and practices to weave into your classroom and to suggest to families. You may also enjoy some of the activities on your own or with your family this summer!
Classroom Management Matters:
The Social-Emotional Learning Approach Children Deserve
By Gianna Cassetta and Brook Sawyer
While teaching an SEL curriculum is so important, students will get more exposure to SEL if it permeates the classroom culture beyond formal lessons. One challenging place to incorporate SEL and mindfulness is classroom management. When there is so much to do and respond to, having a management and discipline system in place can feel more manageable, even if it doesn’t reinforce SEL lessons. This book offers an alternative that is worth considering.
Gentle Hands and Other Sing-Along Songs for Social-Emotional Learning
By Amadee Ricketts
If you teach younger students, these songs would be a fun way to extend SEL throughout different parts of the day. All of the songs reflect social-emotional skills and are set to familiar children’s songs. I’ve been singing A-N-G-E-R, which is set to the tune of B-I-N-G-O, all afternoon.
Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them
By Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.
Lost at School doesn’t directly link itself to SEL, but I think that its insights on “challenging” students are so important. Social-emotional skills must be taught, and some students need to learn them over and over and over again. Understanding where certain behaviors come from can cultivate compassion for the students who need it most and help them experience success at school.
Hopefully, one of these SEL books has sparked your interest. Enjoy your summer!
Emmi Scott is a yoga teacher and former middle school teacher based in Kansas City. You can read more of her writing at emmiscott.com.