The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the work of teachers across the world. Educators’ access to students, technology use, and instructional priorities shifted seismically in spring 2020. As the pandemic continued, social-emotional learning (SEL) took center stage as many educators realized teaching SEL could do a lot for students suddenly forced into remote learning.

Teachers have returned to school, with remote learning as the norm in many districts. A move to remote learning requires teachers to reimagine their pedagogy. And the tragedy and isolation that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic means that teachers need to focus their attention on relationship-building and teaching SEL above all.

Related content: 8 great resources for classroom SEL

Fortunately, established, research-based SEL programs can provide content that translates across context. And research on digital and social-emotional learning provides guiding principles for teaching SEL effectively online:

1. Prioritize your own well-being. It is difficult to teach skills you aren‘t practicing. This is true across content areas, including when teaching SEL. In social settings, people always observe others’ behavior, and kids observe adults with a particularly close eye. They observe how adults manage their emotions, interact with others, and solve problems. If you prioritize your own well-being by making time for exercise, sleep, and activities that help you feel calm, it will be easier to keep your social-emotional skills sharp. And you will send a consistent message in the social-emotional competencies you demonstrate and explicitly teach.

About the Author:

Dr. Tricia Maas is a research scientist and social-emotional learning expert at Committee for Children with a background in personalized and student-centered learning.


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