How to Teach Social and Emotional Learning From a Distance

Given the stress, uncertainty, and trauma students have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become abundantly clear: we cannot neglect social and emotional learning. More than ever, teachers must be able to connect with their students emotionally and foster deep connections and trust. But how do you do that from behind a computer screen? As Jessica Djabrayan Hannigan and John Hannigan explain in their new book, SEL From a Distance, SEL is as manageable as it is essential. 

Why SEL matters now

SEL certainly isn’t new. We all know it’s important, but we’re now seeing the need for SEL like never before. Under the strains of quarantine, parental job loss, and overall insecurity, students are struggling. Their anxiety, depression, and loneliness are manifesting as truancy, acting out, and academic regression. 

The gaps have widened, and the cracks in the system in how we support SEL are no longer hidden in the traditional chaos of school. We have some students who may need additional support, some who did not need any prior to the pandemic but who do now, and some who just need to know they are loved and cared for.

Tools for teaching SEL at a distance

Yes, it’s critical, but how do you do it? Teachers need practical tools for teaching SEL that will be effective whether they’re in a distance, hybrid, blended, or in-person model and that don’t simply add more to their already full plates. SEL From a Distance offers dozens of tools and processes like these to help teachers successfully ease SEL into their learning environments:

    • Write “Your New Story” Prompt: This is a great way to get students to self-evaluate their actions, learn from their mistakes, and remember that “tomorrow is another day.”

    • Virtual Behavior Contract: For students who are not responding to classroom rules alone, this tool is a good reteaching opportunity.

    • Help-Seeking Prompt: Students need to learn the right ways to ask for help. Insert an “I Need Assistance” link on the class webpage or below every email where students can submit a form. 

Want more tools from this book? WeAreTeachers readers are eligible for an exclusive 30% discount. Use code SEL30 to redeem. 

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