Turning discipline issues into teachable moments for SEL
- Kristin Stuart Valdes, a senior program manager for Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, believes teachers don’t fully take advantage of classroom conflicts for social emotional learning, instead treating them as disciplinary issues.
- Stuart Valdes writes for Edutopia that teachers who build regular time into their weeks to teach social emotional skills ensure their students have a background from which to draw during moments of conflict, when they might need to use deep breathing techniques, self-talk, “I feel” and “I need” statements, and other approaches.
- Teachers can offer proactive interventions for students who make a habit of interrupting class using SEL techniques — like asking those prone to speaking out of turn to take five deep breaths to stem the impulse — and they can set up no-fault zones in the classroom to provide students a place to cool off.
Beyond preparing students with skills they’ll need to be successful in work and life, social emotional learning can provide opportunities for greater focus in the classroom. Students who know how to self-regulate and have the self-awareness to identify and address root causes of some of their behaviors can be more present during lessons.
The Erikson Institute is studying the impact of specific mindfulness techniques in 16 Chicago schools and comparing it to a control group of 14 schools. While teachers and administrators may have been wary about using instructional minutes for mindfulness exercises, teachers quickly realized that time spent on task actually increased once students could more quickly transition between recess and class, for example, using mindfulness techniques.
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