Teaching Tuesday: 3 Strategies to Support Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez and Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick, faculty

female teacher working with young student using social-emotional learning strategies

As teachers, we typically have many plans we want to put in place for the start of the school year. While classroom management and academic plans are important, it is also important to consider what strategies you are using to set the stage for supporting students in social-emotional learning at the start of the year.

Recently, educators have touted the positive effects of implementing restorative practices and the growth mindset with their students and colleagues. Let’s explore three strategies to effectively incorporate restorative practices and the growth mindset.

Growth Mindset

As human beings, our brains are set up to focus on what we are unable to do or things that are too challenging to complete. This phenomenon is known as the fixed mindset. To combat this thinking, you can support students to embrace a growth mindset by incorporating specific activities designed to engage the mind and quiet stressors.

For example, you can celebrate the success of others, learn from criticism or recognize that we all make errors. As a teacher, you can model metacognitive thinking by sharing your thoughts when you make a mistake. You can discuss the process you went through to share lessons and inspiration that can lead to later success.

Self-Regulation Tools

You can help students regulate their emotions and stress by integrating some resources for them in your classroom. Here are some examples: quiet corner, square breathing, random acts of kindness, listening to headphones, squeezing stress balls, drinking water and positive self-talk. You can even demonstrate regulation strategies yourself on a day-to-day basis and utilize these strategies with your students as you model how to cope. This transparency demonstrates it is ok to have these feelings and normalizes the feelings of stress and emotion.

Restorative Language

When students are not meeting your expectations, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. You can implement a strategy called “connect before correct.” This strategy emphasizes building a strong relationship with your students and models using specific language relevant to this situation. For example, if a student is struggling to complete their work, you could say, “I’m noticing that you are having a hard time today concentrating on your work. Tell me what is going on. What do you need to get your work completed?”

Another way to use restorative language is to implement affective statements. An example of this would be when a student is constantly interrupting their neighbor in the classroom. You could say, “I feel sad when you interrupt your neighbor. What I’d like to see is you helping your neighbor instead.”

When you use these strategies throughout the school year, your students are more likely to exhibit a growth mindset and engage in using restorative language with you, other students and their family members.

At Grand Canyon University’s College of Education, our teaching and learning cycle provides a structure for reflection for teacher and principal candidates. It provides guidance based on research regarding the professional teaching and learning process and is grounded in our rich Christian heritage. The teacher and principal candidates personally progress through the teaching and learning cycle. Learn more about earning your education degree from GCU and return each week for a new Teaching Tuesday post.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.