Why is SEL important more than ever in times of virtual ED?
School has never been just a place to fill up with knowledge … If so – we could safely leave the children in front of GOOGLE, where it is full of information that they need, and which they often do not, in fact. The school is a social group in which children receive their lessons in communication, patience, tolerance, ways of reacting in different situations, feelings … They receive support … They have friendships …
The digital form of education does not mean that our socialization should stop.
Quite the opposite – it is needed more than ever! There was a cardinal change inthe natural way children communicate, teachers communicate with them. Like any change – it is associated with levels of stress and need for time to adapt… More frequent discussions on the topic are necessary.
It is logical to look even harder and more purposefully for the options for overcoming the physical distance in order to maintain our emotional health.
It is clear to everyone that academic achievments cannot be acquired without the proper approach, without adaptive and creative thinking, without taking into account the peculiarities of the changing environment and its participants, moods, fears, aspirations, opportunities and goals. Common and individual goals. Needless to say, it is NOT ONLY the RESULTS that matter when it comes to working with the most fragile group – the children. Satisfaction, creating a trusted, safe community, a sense of belonging – these are factors of success in the long run. This is social-emotional learning. And it’s not just important, it’s paramount in conditions of isolation, distance, pandemic, mass digitalization – the consequences of which for the new generation, are still difficult to even predict. And Social-emotional learning is achievable in a digital environment.
Therefore, we decided to select some tips and activities for work on the social and emotional health of children, to support their sence of belonging to a group, to support their efforts be a community, their relationship, their abilities of taking responsible and healthy decisions.
Create Eagerness – let them look forward to the next lesson
It’s a challenge to make students look forward to their next lesson, but the effort is even greater in a digital environment where you can join – and not „be there“ at the same time. … However, imagine if in the online environment, we create a ritual – everybody to be dressed differently, interesting every day. And When the children show up, to be eager to pot their camera on, to be seen, to see the others, and because they will expect everybody to say „WOW“ . It could be a clothing related to the lesson, or something just unusual, strange. To provoke expectation for the lesson to come, to be surprised. Giving them a surprise is a way to connect and attach. Remember all those Youtube videos in which a child unpacks kinder surprise eggs or gift boxes. The children watch them – because they give them a Surprise. Expectation.
There is nothing wrong with using these emotions to attract them to the lesson, to build relationship between students, connect with their interests, and to connect them emotionally to the learning process. This will dramatically increase the interest in participating in each subsequent class … And of course – the commitment to the class.
Let`s Unlock Curiousity for each other
Each child can be given the task of collecting things that describe him in a box. This could happen in one or two weeks. Then give the children the opportunity, at a convenient time during the day to tell about their box. Let them tell about themselves through the box, in order to get to know each other, on a higher level.
The child can also collect objects that he associates with some experience, emotion, etc … „I carry an object, and I carry it now, because it makes me feel ….“ and then show the object – and open a discussion on the topic. For example, someone shows an iron – and talks about it … And the others think „why the iron exactly“?
The only requirement is not to offend each other while sharing. The teacher should ask student to be careful not to hurt anyone. Because if this happens – participation of the students, who violated the rules, must be terminated.
Create your own working Culture of Communication
Don’t accept your students be inactively present. This is useless. For this purpose, things can change in the direction of activating the student and this becomes very easy in the digital environment – because it is much more familiar to him, much more enjoyable – and we can finally take advantage of this.
Create a Challange!
The teacher can give children a task – the material for the next lesson, written by him – as an essay, a presentation or any form that will suit the group he is working with. He could split the material among different students – one to have 5 minutes, another one to have another 5. They will have to tell about certain parts of the lesson. When you see each other at their next meeting, the teacher will not teach them – the children will teach. The teacher acts as a moderator of a wonderful question and answer session by asking questions. This will also give children an example of what questions can be asked about a new material, as very often they do not know how to seek new knowledge.
The approach to such an activity is best in the style of „This is an incredibly responsible task that I put my trust in you for. . The goal is to make me remember this lesson. How will you do it?“
The challenge in this assignment is the key moment in the approach, because the children of this generation are motivated when they are delegated responsibilities, and also – they feel empowered and inspired when they have to overcome something. In addition to providing a non-simulated presence of your students – This will also improve children’s presentation skills.
This is similar to the previous exercise, but with a name that sounds provocative and interesting to children. Like the previous one, this works great in offline form, too. At the end of each lesson – give 10 minutes to 1, 2 children to prepare a summary of the new lesson you taught in this lesson and present it – as commercial. And it can be a TV commercial, radio commercial… They can be creative as they wish. It’s fun, it’s nice, it’s creative. If the children know that some of them will be chosen to do it, they will be motivated to listen to the lesson very carefully. And if you approach the task with humor – you will receive both their attention in class, but also their heartfelt trust that your goal is to have fun while gaining knowledge. The process can be very easy and the climate in your classroom – virtual or offline – can be extremely healthy.
Assessment through meaningful activity
Children`s performance can be rated by meaningful activity in the group. Businesses do it – why not transfer this model to education? Such a model motivates constant communication, makes children interested in the lesson, and they stop simulate presence. They are present.
The teacher can say, „I want you to ask me questions in the group? Just because I’m teaching lesson number 5 today and 6 tomorrow, doesn’t mean you can’t ask me questions about these lessons until the end of the year. My job is to communicate with you about our lessons, but you have to create the topics of conversation. And I will rate your topics, questions and discussions by how meaningful they are, and how active you are. “ Because tomorrow, when these children go to work, if they only go without being involved in the work process – they will most likely be fired, because such staff is easily replaceable. And the children have to work in teams throughout their lives and prove their belonging to them. If they are not interested in the process – they will always be sanctioned.
Gamification in the learning process as part of social-emotional learning
Can you imagine if this with the assessment of meaningful activity (above advice) is actually in the form of collecting points. They can be marked in a chart, which we can make digitally much easier than offline, and it has data for each student, how many points he has collected.
BUT the points should be summed up in total for the class – according to everyone`s contribution to it.
And when they reach a certain number of points – for example 200 – the whole class can „unlock“ a special prize. It can be whatever you decide and you assume is best for your group. In this way we stimulate them even more to earn points, and in order to win, they will be active … Besides – they will be together in this and their merit is sweet in the end – because they have achieved victory with common efforts.
Social-emotional Learning includes parents as well, because they are part of the „team“.
During a lockdown, a digital education, this is easier – because surely at least one parent is there (for younger students). Take advantage of this. When they have the opportunity, let them get involved, share when they were students, learning this particular lesson – what challenges they had. Their main task is to share „How do you use this lesson today in the living life? ”Children of the new generation like to have useful information about the things they need to learn. If they have them – backed by personal stories, it’s an amazing experience to them. It is learning, through sharing real life stories – and this is really social emotional learning.
Social-emotional learning during social distance and isolation
This is something that can be initiated by directors. Find a place, a real physical place, you can mark a tree, a flower or something, preferably in the yard of your school. Children can take turns, on schedule, to go there. If they wish, they can leave some things to each other. In a box or a jar, they can leave a message or an object. This is a wonderful way – even if education is virtual, we can allow them not to detac from offline, in a safe way. This is something like their offline chat. Besides, this is something they will do together and it will be fun for everyone. Those who are worried – will find sort of mental comfort and relief. At the very least – the teacher can keep this jar for them – and show it to them at a later important moment. To remind them that together they went through a challenging time and what preserved them was reciprocity, togetherness – even when the whole world proclaimed separation through social distance is needed.
Testament to the FUTURE
At a later stage – this different jars from the different classes can be kept by the principal himself – as part of the history of the school. As a time capsule – yes, the school goes through a difficult period – and it is important to have memories of each one that can be passed on to future generations. It is continuity, to build continuity across the bridge from past, present to future. Yes, this principle probably won’t be a principle there yet, in 20 years, maybe a lot of the staff won’t be the same anymore – and the children who will read it – probably aren`t even been born yet. And that’s great! Doing something like this is really Social-emotional – because it is beyond our personal positives as a school director – it will be a positive for the next one. But it will be a huge example and testament to future generations. It’s like planting a tree … and knowing you won’t take advantage of its shade. To create a culture of continuity – beyond what you will be able to see as a result .. To bequeath it in the future ..
You can see how the fACT approach of FUNtazia is applicable also for online education – here:
This is FUNtazia`s Social-emotional learning approach. It is applicable offline, but it is also appropriate for online use.
It consists of 4 anchors – Filing, Attention, Communication and Teamwork. This is what makes the fACT approach – it is based on the facts that we observe and collect, but also it`s purpose is to allow us to ACT intentionally.
What is behind the words of fACT and how is this approach useful – will be revealed in part 2 of this article.
You can also check DARE Framework with instructions of use, for the Filing part of applying the fACT approach.
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We will be happy if you give us a feedback if you have applied these techniques and what result they have given. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.