Some time ago, I read a book about love. Bear with me, I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds. The book in question discussed how ancient civilizations believed there were many kinds of love which all played important roles within their culture. For example, friendship was a form of love. Kindness and charity were seen as love for one’s fellow man. Even self-love (aka self-care and self-esteem) had a part in developing a healthy, emotional adult.

If you are an educator, you probably recognize this philosophy as a kind of proto-social-emotional learning. As students develop, they become more aware and more reliant on the different mechanics of social cooperation. Learning how to create relationships, understanding when it’s responsible to take care of themselves first, all these things fall under the umbrella of SEL. It’s also a bit gratifying to see historians validate what teachers have been saying for years: perfect grades won’t help a student succeed if they can’t cooperate or manage their emotions!

Some Post-Valentine’s Ideas

So, how do we introduce social-emotional learning into our classrooms in a way that’s memorable, meaningful, and fun? Well, Valentine’s Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still use the month of February to inspire our students. Here are just a few fun ideas you can implement in your classroom:

  • Poem Power: Poems are a powerful way to share ideas. Start by introducing your students to the work of great poets like Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman, and more. Then capitalize on the lesson by teaching them about six different types of poems. Finally, let them use what they’ve learned to share a positive message with someone they appreciate!
  • Student-Created Team Operating Agreements: Student-created Team Operating Agreements help students identify expectations of one another, communicate those expectations, and practice articulating their expectations. They also increase a sense of community in the class as students get to know and work with one another.
  • Explicitly Teach Active Listening: When teaching kids how to be an active listener, it is important to get them to understand that active listening is “listening to understand” as opposed to “listening to respond”. Use this resource to help explicitly teach students how to become a successful active listener.
  • Reflection Journals: Take 10 minutes at the end of the day and have students write in personal journals. Tell them to record any questions or thoughts they might have about the day’s lesson, but also encourage them to write down any feelings or frustrations they may be experiencing. Why do they feel this way? What can they do to embrace a more positive outlook? Not only will this improve their skills in writing, but it will also foster their social-emotional growth.
Further Fun

If this sounds interesting to you, then be sure to check out VAI’s latest Timely Topic: Share the Love. This resource is free to download and comes with four, fifteen-minute lessons designed to promote student inquiry and social-emotional growth. Hands-on activities like these are ideal for social-emotional exploration because they get students up, moving, and working together. The best way to teach students about social awareness and relationship skills is to get them participating as a group. Best of all, these resources take teacher time into consideration. Do one or do them all – the choice is yours!

*Image courtesy of nile via Wikimedia Commons.

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