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Incorporating Key Social Emotional Learning Techniques into Middle School Lessons

Improve your classroom community with these social emotional learning techniques.

Social emotional learning can be a natural and essential component of our teaching; this blog post will discuss how you can incorporate it seamlessly into your middle school lessons.

The pandemic took a significant toll on our students’ social and emotional learning development as many students had to be participating in online learning for significant parts of their day. 

What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Social emotional learning (SEL) is a process that equips students with the skills and understanding to manage emotions, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Emotional and social well-being are integral to overall development, so social emotional learning goes beyond academic knowledge to develop essential life skills. 

Rooted in recognizing that emotional and social well-being are integral to overall development, social emotional learning goes beyond academic knowledge to foster essential life skills.

We are helping students recognize and understand their emotions with social emotional learning. Additionally, SEL emphasizes social awareness, encouraging students to empathize with their fellow students and teaches effective communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution. 

Social emotional learning develops real-world skills that help students navigate self-preservation, self-control, relationship-building, and decision-making. This article goes into more detail about SEL

  • When did we learn about risky decisions? 
  • When did we figure out the good qualities in friendships? 
  • How did we learn to control our impulses? 

These are all parts of social emotional learning that were developed through our school years, which leads to why some students today struggle with managing their behaviour in the classroom. 

They missed much of this development while learning from home during the pandemic.

How Can Social Emotional Learning Be Difficult for Teachers To Incorporate Into Lessons? 

Trying to juggle curriculum, government standards, testing, creative and fun activities, putting grades in, and classroom management – social emotional learning can sometimes seem like just one more thing to add to the massive checklist of things we must accomplish as teachers. 

Let’s shift our mindset. 

Think of social emotional learning as an easy and integral part of our lessons; there are some simple ways to add social emotional learning into our lessons seamlessly which can help build and nourish your classroom community.

Incorporating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Techniques Into Middle School Lessons

Let’s discuss how to incorporate social emotional learning techniques into your lessons. 

Digital Escape Rooms

Digital escape rooms are growing more and more popular with teachers and students. Teachers love them because they have done the work for them – digital escape rooms require little to no prep and are simple to use for a lull during classroom time, reinforce concepts, or leave with a substitute teacher. 

From a student’s perspective, digital escape rooms are fun games and puzzles to work on in class with friends. As teachers, we know digital escape rooms have many more benefits. When given as a group assignment, students work together as a team, focusing on their skills and how those skills can benefit the group.

Digital escape rooms allow students to tap into a different part of their brain than what they are used to using. These puzzles may seem like games to students, but they teach them how to think critically and solve problems in different ways. Working together allows students to see skills in other people and themselves and learn how to make them work with different types of people. 

One of the most complex parts of group work is figuring out how to work together. Digital escape rooms allow students to find ways to work together in fun and exciting ways. Students finish escape rooms feeling accomplished and proud of themselves and their team.

2 Peas and a Dog has a wide variety of digital escape rooms that are pre-made and ready to implement into your class. These no prep digital escape rooms come in themes like back-to-school, end-of-the-year, holidays, seasons, sports, books, movies, and more! These are also editable, which makes them versatile to your classroom needs. You can find all 2 Peas and a Dog digital escape rooms on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD

If you need even more reasons to use digital escape rooms in middle school, check out this post: Why Use Digital Escape Rooms in Middle School?

Flexible Seating Cards

Flexible seating cards are another easy but genius way to incorporate social emotional learning into your classroom. I have a pre-made plan that you can implement right now. It has choice cards that provide students with variety in their seating plan and can be used to help students learn more about their classmates. 

The 2 Peas and a Dog flexible seating cards can be used with classes of up to 35 students and can be used at any point in the year. They can be monthly, daily, specifically for group projects, or just to mix things up! They have simple instructions that are a breeze to apply, with different options for you to choose from. 

Simply put, students draw a card and find the match to that card on a desk. This keeps it random and will ensure a mix of students in each group. This pack includes these options: numbers, a deck of cards, the phonetic alphabet, and Morse code.

Using flexible seating cards gives students opportunities to meet new people and, just as with the digital escape rooms, offers students a chance to learn to work with different people. The choice cards allow students to feel like they have a part in this decision and can add fun to their daily routine. 

Social emotional learning teaches students how to survive in the real world and their future work lives. Flexible seating choice cards allow students to be prepared to work with other people. In their adult lives, students will face these types of situations, and this technique can help them figure out ways to handle them and not feel intimidated.

You can find the Flexible Seating Choice Cards on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.  

Rewards Coupons, Reward Passes

Who doesn’t enjoy positive reinforcement? A reward for a job well done? Praise for accomplishing something? Everyone loves a positive word or reward. Students also need to know when they have done something good besides a good grade on an assignment. 

Whether helping someone with their hands full or holding the door for someone, students need to see that these little acts of kindness are fantastic qualities. We are preparing them for adulthood, and if we want positive forces in society, we need to let students know when they are doing good things.

Sometimes, as teachers, we tend to focus more on students acting out than on the students who follow the rules and finish their work on time. However, it is easier than you think to switch to recognizing the good things students do. 

Not everyone has the money to throw a pizza party or for a prize box; however, there are affordable and accessible ways to reward students. I’ve put together rewards coupons/passes that are easy and fun to use and can be used when you want to praise your students. 

Reward coupons and passes can be a lifesaver when praising students. These coupons are easy to implement and can include anything you want. Passes in this pack include a homework pass, switch seats pass, invite a friend to lunch pass, sit in the comfy chair pass, gum pass, and more. 

Teachers know there is no sense in reinventing the wheel; the work is already done when you get this pack of rewards coupons and passes. You can find the Reward Coupons, Reward Passes for Classroom Management on Teachers Pay Teachers USD and Shopify CAD

These are just a few ideas for you to embrace social emotional learning in your classroom. Our classrooms need to be places where students know they can “make mistakes, take chances, and get messy,” as Ms. Frizzle from Magic School Bus teaches us. When students feel safe in the classrooms they enter, they are more willing to open up and develop their social-emotional skills. 

By incorporating simple things into our everyday lessons, we can help students learn these skills without even knowing it. Try the ideas in this blog post, and let me know how they work for you. What other ideas do you have to implement social emotional learning in your class? Feel free to share them with me on social media (@2peasandadog) or by sending me a message.

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