Social-Emotional learning seems to be one area of education that we forget to include in cross-curriculum efforts.
But it’s not out of the ordinary to combine ELA, social studies, art, P.E., math, and science together in the classroom. In fact, it’s the norm to bring bits and pieces of these academics into other curricula.
So, why haven’t we done the same with SEL? Especially in today’s social climate.
Adding SEL to daily lessons can be challenging for teachers who are already pressed for time. But the good news is, counselors can make it easier for teachers to incorporate SEL activities into their daily lessons. All we have to do is give them a few simple tips to get their wheels turning.
Social-emotional learning, for example, naturally complements the English Language Arts.
The truth is, ELA teachers are at an advantage when it comes to adding SEL to their lesson plans, simply due to the amount of creativity involved in the arts.
In fact, ELA teachers are the low hanging fruit we need to increase social-emotional learning in the classroom.
It’s almost a no brainer, at least for us as counselors, right?
Let’s take a look at some ways to help our language arts teachers incorporate SEL into their curricula without difficulty.
Incorporating SEL into Grammar Studies
Grammar is a common topic that elementary teachers encounter daily (in almost every subject).
Correcting sentences by teaching punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure are almost second nature in any course (not just ELA).
Teachers can utilize the opportunity, that correction provides, to change sentences into helpful tips all while educating on grammar.
For example, instead of, “Sally likes solving puzzles, eating chips, and going to the movies.” as a practice sentence, teachers can use helpful sentences like, “I can calm down by taking breaks, breathing deeply, and counting to ten.” (of course, the point is to both teach correct grammar and give a smidge of SEL in the process).
In other words, it’s a way to teach proper grammar while sneaking in some mindfulness tips.
Also, when teaching about quotation marks, they can switch out random quotes with SEL quotes from important figures in the fields of growth mindset, mindfulness, anxiety and more.
Using Literature to Teach Social Emotional Learning Skills
Another way to help ELA teachers incorporate SEL into their daily curricula is to encourage them to select articles about growth, mindset, mindfulness, or coping skills instead of random news articles or pop culture to review.
Students can use these articles to reference current events during social studies, allowing them to learn about current events and mindfulness.
Poetry is the Perfect Social-Emotional Learning Companion
Poetry is perfect for focusing on the present moment.
Children learning how to write their own poetry, and express themselves through writing is the perfect segway to social-emotional learning and self-awareness.
Poetry is a way to encourage and teach students about introspective reflection while articulating their feelings into their own words. Another way to teach students how to communicate with others.
Use Persuasion to Promote Social-Emotional Learning
One ELA skill students will encounter is the ability to persuade an audience by writing about a topic they feel strongly about.
And what a perfect way to promote self-esteem!
ELA teachers can ask students to write to an audience about their talents or skills.
For example, students are asked to select an interesting job description and write a persuasive paper about why they’re the best fit for the job.
Students then have the opportunity to envision themselves in a role they would enjoy and write persuasively about their worth.
The focus should be to write in a positive tone and showcase their strength, which, in turn, promotes self-esteem and positivity.
Researching Prominent Leaders of Social Emotional Learning
When students learn to research and write well-panned papers, teachers can encourage students to research social-emotional learning topics.
This will help students become aware of the importance of SEL while practicing research methods.
For example, students can write about the founder of Growth Mindset, Carol Dweck, or Dr. Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique founder.
As you can see, there are many opportunities to incorporate SEL into other subjects. In fact, the curriculum wouldn’t even have to be altered much.
And in the areas it would be, it might even be a refreshing change for some teachers and their students. A little positivity can go a long way!
If you’d like to get your fellow educators started, a simple SEL activities workbook might be enough to get their wheels turning.