Teaching SEL Online

Written by Noah Teitelbaum

May 6, 2020

Social-emotional Learning

For obvious reasons, teaching SEL online is very important these days! Not only are teachers, social-emotional learning specialists, and counselors finding themselves forced online, the need for SEL has increased dramatically. We’re adding online teaching tips for both live online and recorded lessons for each of our lessons to help you make the switch to online. We’re providing this with each lesson:

teaching sel online through an imac to a child using kinetic sand

Try having students use their hands whenever they can. This ties into encouraging your students to move their bodies to break up the routine of sitting through lessons. This is just one helpful tip for teaching SEL online!

Check out the lesson page to see, but here are some general ideas for delivering SEL online:

1. Build routines into your SEL lessons

Whether you’re teaching SEL live online or through recordings that you make, try starting every lesson with a mindful moment (here are some mindful moments we had kids record) or start or end lessons by having every student write an I-Statement on a big piece of paper and show it to the camera or. For recorded lessons, email it to your class or send a picture. 

2. Get pictures of students using SEL skills and share them back with the class.

Check your school’s policy on privacy, but consider students or their parents sending you pictures or videos of students using SEL skills. These could be pictures of student’s cozy corners, their mindful seated posture, their drawing from a recent read aloud, or a poster they’ve made of the brain. Then put them together into one document or webpage and share it back with the class. This encourages participation and is a form of much-needed connection.

3. Have students move!

Online learning can involve a lot of sitting. Along with building in movement activities to your live or recorded lessons (stretch breaks, 5-minute workouts, etc.), use physical movements to get participation. For example: “put your arms up if you think that apologies are easy, cross your arms in front of you if you think they are hard to do.” You can also send students out on quick scavenger hunts in their homes: “go and bring back something that helps them calm down,” or “everyone go and get a hat to put on for this next activity.”

4. For live online teaching, manage the cameras thoughtfully.

It’s a lot to track other people on camera and your own video. We find it tiring to see ourselves during meetings. In Zoom, use the “hide self-view” function and show students how to do it themselves. For other platforms that don’t have this capability, have everyone (you too!) tape a piece of paper over their self-view. Also, build in dedicated time for students to be silly on camera.

5. For recorded lessons, leave space for thinking.

After you ask a question, even if you’re going to answer it yourself, leave space for students to think. Silently and slowly count to at least 7 and, if you know how, go off camera and just show the question.

6. Remember the music!

For younger kids, you can sing “together” by having you on mic and everyone else muted singing along at home (online platforms inevitably have a lag that doesn’t allow for actual singing together). You can also play recorded music into your microphone or, with some platforms, share screen and audio and play a video.

 

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Written by

Noah Teitelbaum

Noah started his 20 years in education with 5th graders in Harlem and then went on to teach in other schools serving low-income students in the NYC area. He knows firsthand the need for tools for teaching SEL and Mindfulness. Noah has also been an instructional coach, an author of teaching handbooks and curricula, a consultant to some of the most innovative schools in the country, and a business manager and product innovator for a national test-prep business. He’s earned his Masters in Education, and an MBA, and has done significant course work in Instructional Leadership.

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