A new year of school has begun, and per usual there is plenty to do. Students are acclimating to their new classrooms. Teachers are busy organizing their lesson plans and preparing for the coming months. In-between projects, both groups are taking the opportunity to connect and foster some classroom community. It’s a moment filled with potential, and none of us want to let it slip away!

These early days are also the ideal time for teachers to start introducing social-emotional learning in their classroom. Everything is still fresh. Students haven’t fallen into routines or developed any bad habits yet. As a result, they’re more open to creating new environments where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking can thrive. So, if educators are to strike while the iron is hot, they’ll need to know which strategies can be used with maximum effect.

Here are just a few useful ideas for implementing social-emotional learning in your classroom:

Owning Community Commitments: Community Commitments help build a sense of community in the classroom while also developing good citizenship skills. To build a Community Commitment, work with your students to identify those characteristics that make your classroom a great learning community and discuss how to ensure that all are following through in exemplifying these ideals. You’ll build an environment of trust, respect, and ownership.

Active Listening: Help students communicate to others that they hear, empathize, and understand by teaching active listening skills like clarifying, summarizing, and withholding judgment. By teaching these skills with intention, you’ll help your students become successful listeners.

Check in With Other Teachers: SEL isn’t just for students. To stay energized, it is important to look to each other for encouragement and support. Ask the questions: What do you feel? What do you need? How can I help? Supporting others, and being supported by them, goes a long way toward making even your worst days better.

Apology, Appreciation, Aha: Help students engage in productive and empathetic group conversations by having them volunteer to share either an apology, an appreciation for someone else, or a realization that someone helped them achieve.

Reflection Journal: Journaling is demonstrated to help students retain learning, and to help them manage and process their own experiences in the classroom. Incorporate a reflection journal for academic reasons, or to cultivate social-emotional learning.

If you found these ideas helpful, be sure to check out the full list of Strategy Explorations from Blue Apple. These resources are free to download and cover everything from classroom management to inquiry-based science. Remember, when we give our students the tools they need to navigate their feelings and take ownership of their learning, there’s no limit to what they can achieve! Don’t let this moment of the school year pass you by. Implement social-emotional learning in your classroom and set your course for this exciting new year.

For more free educational resources, check out out these teacher-tested strategies from Blue Apple!