The problem-solving skills that students use on the playground are valuable later in life. As educators, it is our job to help students navigate social and emotional waters and develop these important life skills.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) also play an integral role in students’ success. SEL teaches students to handle their emotions well, make positive decisions, problem-solve cooperatively, and practice empathy and caring.
Focus on these three strategies to create “a classroom of superheroes”:
- Regularly promote your school’s character program, as well as your classroom’s motto.
- Describe real-life issues to your students and demonstrate ways to resolve them. For example, discuss a scenario involving sharing the paste or taking turns. (Have students act out appropriate classroom behaviors.)
- Involve the class in activities that model ways to handle specific situations, practice empathy, and make positive decisions. (See my favorite activities and books below.)
Classroom Activity Ideas
- Ants on a log game: Students get into a line and are numbered 1–10. Then they must change positions so they are lined up 10–1.
- Ro Sham Bo Rockstar game: Also known as rock/paper/scissors: students play in pairs around the room. The loser must become the winner’s cheerleader for the rest of the game.
- Incorporate bucket fillers: Students give daily positive written feedback to peers.
- Daily student greeter: Encourage personal connections with a daily student greeter.
- Weekly class meetings: Discuss, encourage, and highlight positive behaviors.
Books to Read
In addition to student relationships, SEL also influences the student-teacher relationship. As educators, we greatly influence our students’ development and attitudes toward school. So take the time in your week to nurture relationships within your classroom. You may just be the teacher that students never forget.
Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.