Time to talk about SEL in a hybrid learning context

The pandemic has shifted the ways we look at SEL and the ways we need to implement it so that it would be accessible to all. Students having to be outside of their school environment for extended hours has really highlighted how student-agency plays a big role in determining the success of the younger generation in the years to come.

So what’s a better time to talk about the ways we can effectively deliver SEL in a blended format as hybrid learning is becoming the new reality? It might be tempting to just add in SEL as yet another subject in the bag of all the other things kids will have to learn and make it seem like a whole new subject. While this can have positive results as students will learn the importance of social emotional learning, it will not be enough to do justice to the ubiquitous need of delivering the core messages of SEL.

In Clanbeat we really believe that SEL is not just another topic to learn but rather one that needs to be ingrained in every aspect of education. By making SEL a relevant layer across all the touch points where students interact with the educational system and each other, we turn SEL from a burden into a part of life without any additional effort.

So in the context of hybrid learning, it is paramount to “integrate” SEL into every other learning opportunity as opposed to treating it as a standalone subject.

Understanding this is the key to a successful implementation of SEL in an era where physical attendance is not always possible or ideal. This might seem hard at first specially for subjects that on first glance might not come across as very relevant to SEL skills. However, the truth is that virtually all subjects will have opportunities that cover one or more areas that could be relevant in SEL. This will require some practice, but to give an idea let’s take an example: Studying Math would require strong self-confidence, perseverance, analytical and stress management skills to cope with increasingly complex exercises.

Check this to see how a teacher implements SEL into the math course. Or in a biology class, you could focus on SEL skills by having students do something that would benefit a local charity or have them brainstorm on the effects of different actions that were discussed in the class on society. Here’s a list of other ideas.

But we could also bring in SEL in more obvious ways by way of activities that focus specifically on practicing social emotional skills. All of the following ideas could be integrated and adapted in a blended format:

1. Develop a structured check in time

This could mean creating a schedule for checking in with students. These meetings (either in person or virtual) can create a safe space for the students where they can feel connected and supported. Keep these meetings informal with the student’s feelings as the basis of the conversation. You can extend the effects of this emotional check-in beyond in-person meetings with the help of digital tools the like of Clanbeat’s check-in feature. A quick search of “Wheel of Emotions” can help students build better emotional literacy when it comes to identifying and expressing their emotions.

2. Build a community feeling

You can use activities that would set the tone for the teaching topic that is coming up on that day. Try to encourage all students to take part in the conversation and express their voice. This will help them stay engaged throughout the rest of the lesson. Co-creating the study plan or giving options to the student can go a long way in engaging them. You can also develop what’s known as the “shared agreements” process to co-create a list of agreements with students through brainstorming. This can include anything that the students need to learn better or to feel more comfortable in school or topics that students think are important to them. You can use the Clanbeat App discussion module to continue the conversation outside of the classroom and engage the students who are participating online. Sharing these SEL Learning Targets from the book SEL Every Day by Meena Srinivasan with your students can help them develop a language to use when engaging with others.

3. Mix in some core SEL activities

These are small scale exercises that will help quickly target a variety of social emotional needs. Each exercise can be personalized to individual students’ needs. You can find a comprehensive toolkit here. For younger students you can organize read-alouds of SEL-focused books and reflect with students on the social-emotional skills of the characters. Checkout this list for SEL-focused books categorized by different qualities.

4. Hold a weekly “Circle” meeting

During these sessions, students are divided into small groups which are intentionally diverse and they will be sharing their feelings around individual, relationship, or community work. A great opportunity for developing empathy and appreciation of others and reflection. Make sure to discuss and elaborate on what feelings are and how to break them down as well as how each feeling could manifest in the body. Read more here.

5. Provide opportunities for learning through engagement

Community is a powerful tool to develop empathy and why not mix that in with learning? You can start your online or in-person sessions with 10 minutes allowing students to break into 1:1 groups and talk to one another about the subject they are going to study (or anything else really). You could also have them do engaging activities like Jigsaw that are designed to build background knowledge and to allow them to learn from different viewpoints. Creating ways for students to connect with friends outside of the school environment could also be a good way to develop empathy.


6. Stress the importance of self compassion

We all experience difficult emotions. While during these times we become more self-aware, in turn, we also become more self-conscience. It is important to encourage forgiveness and kindness and remind us that as humans we are often the most critical of ourselves. Self-compassion is a practice that can be practiced by students anywhere, as a group activity or in the comfort of their homes in a remote setting. Digital tools like Clanbeat could help you make this part of your routine for the classroom.

7. Practice gratitude in the form of reflections

At the end of the week, have students share one thing they feel grateful about for that week, for example with the 3 Good Things practise.

Talk soonHesam Mindfulness enthusiast @Clanbeat

Stay tuned for more

I hope the above examples have given you some ideas regarding how to infuse SEL into your teaching style. Remember that the above is just a starting point and the most effective integration of SEL is one where an educator adapts and customizes the methods to accommodate for the needs of each student and the classroom environment. Teachers, at their core, are designers who design one of the most crucial and exciting curriculum of all, one that shapes the very nature of our societies – Learning!

Above all, teachers themselves should also develop SEL adult practices to be able to transfer those skills to their students. So let us get inspired by bringing SEL into our own lives, by being more aware of our feelings and emotions and by bringing in our personal touch in how we integrate skills like reflection, perseverance, focus, empathy and all other values of SEL into the classroom.

We have recently talked about social emotional learning (SEL) alot. If you’d like to continue reading, here’s: tools to help implement SEL in your school and how school educators and leaders could use analytic tools to get a sense of the state of SEL in their school and find out where improvements are needed.

If you have any questions or would just like to discuss ideas, write to us at hello@clanbeat.com or join our Clanbeat Educator Community on Facebook

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