Learn how to plan and deliver meaningful social-emotional learning lessons with our comprehensive guide. Discover effective strategies, practical tips, and engaging activities to promote students’ emotional well-being and foster positive relationships. Enhance your teaching toolkit and empower your students with valuable life skills through SEL, ensuring an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
Crafting Effective Social-Emotional Learning Lessons: A Guide for Planning and Delivery
Social-emotional learning helps students with an essential part of their education: social and emotional intelligence (learning isn’t just about science, reading, and math!). By teaching your learners the 5 core areas of SEL (self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness, and responsibility), you’re helping them develop the skills they need to thrive in the classroom and the outside world.
Social-emotional lessons should relate to a core SEL concept, have clear objectives, use appropriate activities, and enable you to assess students’ progress.
The key to planning and delivering SEL lessons is in the prep. Make time to plan the lessons and time to teach them. After reading this post, you’ll feel much more confident about planning and delivering impactful social-emotional lessons.
I’m going to guide you through:
- Intentional Planning
- Creating the Ideal SEL Schedule
- Crafting the “Perfect” SEL Lesson
- Tips for Staying on Track
Look out for the free support guide at the end, with templates (including a student observation assessment form) to give you even more help with your social-emotional lesson plans!
Table of Contents
- Crafting Effective Social-Emotional Learning Lessons: A Guide for Planning and Delivery
- Social-Emotional Learning Lessons For You!
- More SEL Classroom Ideas
Intentional Planning for Social-Emotional Learning Lessons
Intentional planning is about more than just coming up with ideas to keep your class occupied; it’s about creating a schedule of lessons deliberately designed to benefit your students so you can help them reach their goals.
The easiest way to start is to get into a routine of planning. At a set time each week, focus on the social-emotional learning lessons you will teach the following week or month. Make sure you plan with a goal in mind! There’s no fixed order for teaching SEL in the classroom – you can choose the lessons based on your class’s needs and schedule. You know your students best, so choose what they need first!
Intentional planning might sound like something you can skip, but it makes a difference. Before deliberate planning, I would try and find time to plan whenever I had a spare minute. I felt scatterbrained and never had enough time to dig deep into my social-emotional lessons and goals.
Need a hand planning? Check out the free support guide to help you choose a time to plan, set a goal, and map out the most effective social-emotional lessons for your class.
Creating the Ideal Social-Emotional Learning Schedule
The ideal SEL schedule helps you make a significant impact, even in a short amount of time. If a child cannot participate in activities with classmates or can’t healthily express their emotions, they’ll struggle at school. So, it’s up to us to help them!
The *must-have* components to consider in your schedule spell SAFE:
- Sequenced: connected and coordinated activities to foster skills development.
- Active: physical forms of learning to help students master new skills.
- Focused: activities that clearly emphasize developing personal and social skills.
- Explicit: target specific social and emotional skills.
I’ve seen teachers trying to cram social-emotional lessons into their day without proper planning, which means they’re the first thing to go when days and weeks get busy. You’ll find that you’ll have enough time when you build them into your schedule!
How to Create Your SEL Schedule
- Decide on a time to teach SEL exclusively or when you’ll integrate it into other subjects.
- Identify and highlight the slots in your timetable, and write down the topics and details of your lessons.
- Commit to the dedicated slots and make them part of your routine (Then, you’ll find them easier to stick with).
- Reflect on how the social-emotional lessons are going, and decide if you need to make any changes, like choosing a different time of day or making your lessons more frequent.
You can make an impact in less than 30 minutes a day by supporting your learners and their social-emotional needs during morning meetings and afternoon circle time. Kids love spending time together, so anything that feels less like schoolwork and more like play makes school more fun!
When you teach social-emotional learning in the classroom, it shifts your mindset away from thinking of it as an exercise that gets checked off and forgotten about. SEL happens all day, every day! Social-emotional learning can be woven into everything you do so your students can always thrive in a supportive environment, no matter what they do.
Social-emotional lessons don’t need to be separate from other subjects – you can integrate SEL with core content to save time and make a huge impact!
Ways To Combine SEL Strategies and Lessons
- Reading: When reading books that creatively illustrate social or emotional topics, ask questions to help your students relate to the experiences, choices, and consequences facing the characters. Encourage kids to share their connections!
- Math: Incorporating partner work, independent working, and group activities into math helps your learners develop social-emotional skills. They’ll learn effective ways to communicate their thinking, work through problems, and persevere through difficult tasks.
- Playground: SEL doesn’t have to be saved for the classroom; kids can practice SEL at recess, too! Provide social skills games (with rules) to help students practice relationship skills and self-management. Getting physically active means they’ll concentrate better in class.
To help you create your social-emotional lesson plans, check out the weekly and monthly calendar templates in the free support guide!
Crafting the “Perfect” SEL Lesson
The “perfect” social-emotional learning lesson is about teaching your students a meaningful social-emotional skill in a fun and engaging way so they’ll be excited to try out what they learn. SEL lessons come in all shapes and sizes, allowing children to learn and practice these skills in a safe and respectful environment.
Now that you’ve intentionally planned your social-emotional lessons and created an ideal SEL schedule, you might wonder what the lessons *actually* look like… so let me give you some examples!
Your weekly structure could be:
- Monday: Introduce the SEL topic for the week (5 mins or less)
- Tuesday: Community-building activity/assess knowledge from another lesson (5-10 mins)
- Wednesday: Teach the actual SEL lesson (10-15 mins)
- Thursday: Class, group, or independent activity to reinforce what they learned (10-20 mins)
- Friday: Encourage the students to reflect on the lesson through journaling (10-15 mins)
You don’t need to do all these components every time! To save time, the independent activity could be combined with a literacy task, like reading a story relevant to the social-emotional learning lesson.
Tips for Staying On Track
It sounds simple, but it’s important to commit to the SEL schedule because when times get tough and you’re busy and stressed (I’ve been there!), it feels easy to just “forget” about SEL.
How to stay motivated:
- Be flexible: Things won’t always work as you imagine, so you need to be open to making changes and finding new ways of teaching.
- Set realistic goals: Don’t try and teach an entire core competency in an afternoon! Break your goals into manageable chunks, and add extra room if things don’t go as planned.
- Be kind to yourself: Social-emotional learning is about teaching the kids to be kind to themselves and each other, so make sure you’re kind to yourself, too.
When I started teaching SEL in the classroom, I had the best intentions and wanted to make time. But days in the classroom are unpredictable! That’s why you must have a positive mindset and instill mantras like “Mistakes are how we learn, so let’s try again.”
Regular SEL slots in your class schedule will help you create a welcome routine that students look forward to. It’s important to make time for social-emotional lessons as often as possible, so put on your creative thinking cap and map out enough time for this vital content in our classrooms!
Try to come up with short (but impactful) activities that build a specific social or emotional skill students need in class and later in life. All it takes is 15-30 minutes a few times a week! You could teach your learners a new breathing strategy to help them calm down, set a specific goal they’ll work on that week, or encourage them to write a kind note and give it to someone.
Try not to think of SEL as a “set number of minutes” each week; think of it as how you do things. For example, kids can discuss what makes a good team member before working in teams. Or, after reading a relevant SEL story, ask learners to reflect on the characters’ actions.
Intentional planning, creating a schedule, and crafting effective lessons will help your students better manage themselves so you can go through your curriculum faster and more thoroughly. When your social-emotional lessons help your pupils enjoy being in the classroom and know that they matter, they’ll be more focused and put in more effort (making your life easier!).
Social-Emotional Learning Lessons For You!
Want to feel content knowing you’ve helped your students reach their full potential?
Adding social-emotional learning to your timetable can feel stressful, especially when handling your already packed weekly schedule. You need some easy-to-prep, high-quality resources you can easily slot in…
Proud to be Primary’s 40-week K-2 curriculum helps you teach your learners the essential social-emotional skills they need to become well-rounded, emotionally intelligent people. With TONS of research-based social-emotional lessons, detailed lesson plans, and hundreds of activities with editable templates, you’ll spend less time planning and more time improving students’ lives.
Free Planning Templates
Need more support to plan and deliver meaningful social-emotional lessons?
Download my free guide, and you’ll get:
- 6 x SEL lesson plan templates
- 4 x weekly/monthly schedule templates
- 1 x brainstorming sheet for lesson ideas
- 1 x topic tracker
- 1 x observations/assessment form
Start creating your ideal social-emotional lesson plan TODAY! Click the image below to sign up for your free copy.
Free Social-Emotional Learning Ebook
Learn nine ways to transform your classroom with social-emotional learning in the FREE Guide for Teachers! It is filled with actionable tips and strategies, insightful ideas to get you started, and free printable templates and activities you can use in your classroom right away!
Click the image below to get your FREE copy.
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FREE Social Emotional Learning Email Series
Sign up for the social emotional learning email course filled with tips to get you started, lesson and activity ideas, PLUS tons of FREE resources you can access right away. Everything you need to teach social skills and emotional literacy in the classroom!