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12 simple ways to integrate a social-emotional learning curriculum

Shaddoe LambertFebruary 21, 2023

12 simple ways to integrate a social-emotional learning curriculum

Teaching Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a critical skill for teachers to learn. While it’s important to teach your students the academic curriculum and prepare them for life beyond school, it’s equally important to help them learn how to navigate their emotions, understand others’ emotions, and resolve conflicts in healthy ways with a social-emotional learning curriculum. The following suggestions will help you integrate SEL in the classroom.

Morning meetings

Morning meetings are a great way to keep your students engaged, focused, and ready to learn with your SEL curriculum. This is a time at the beginning of class when you can have students share their goals for the day or talk about something important that happened in their lives (or even just ask one another questions). You can use these meetings to set the tone for your classroom and make sure everyone is feeling good about themselves and their learning experiences.

First, choose an area of your classroom as the designated place where students will sit during morning meeting time. If possible, try setting up some sort of seating circle so people don’t feel overwhelmed by having so many peers around them at once. Lastly, make sure there’s enough space around tables so everyone has room to move around freely and comfortably.

Practice problem-solving relationship skills

Problem-solving skills are a key part of the social-emotional learning curriculum. Teachers should give their students the opportunity to practice these SEL skills in the classroom as well. Here are just a few ideas for how to incorporate problem-solving into your class:

  • Have students work in pairs or small groups on a problem given by the teacher. After working on it for some time, ask them to present their solutions and collaborate with other groups on better ways of approaching the problem.
  • Give students challenging questions about content related to what you’re teaching (e.g., history or social studies). Ask them to work together to come up with possible solutions before sharing their ideas with others in class.

Incorporate break times into your schedule

Break times are an important part of a student’s day. It’s a time to regroup, refuel, and refocus. In addition to giving students a break from their lessons, break times can be used as an opportunity for social-emotional learning. Students may use this time to discuss emotions they’re feeling as well as social issues that have been brought up in class. Break times provide another opportunity for you and your students to reflect on the content you’ve covered that day with the goal of improving each other’s understanding of social-emotional concepts introduced throughout the school year.

Have students work together

All kids need help at some point.They can learn best when they work together, and this is especially true when it comes to social-emotional learning. Collaboration and healthy interaction are some of the most important elements of developing strong social-emotional skills.

It’s important to note that many students may not be ready for group work yet. If you’re prepared, you can use it as a tool for helping students build confidence, improve organization, and avoid frustration.

Give responsibilities

Giving students responsibilities is one of the most effective ways to help them feel like they are part of the classroom. As a teacher, you can give your students responsibilities that are as simple as helping clean up after a lesson, or those that are more complex, such as taking notes for their classmates.

This will also help students become more independent thinkers and problem solvers by encouraging them to make their own responsible decisions about how best to complete their tasks. This will not only increase self-confidence but also improve focus in the classroom, since there is no longer any need for teachers to provide direction every step of the way!

Incorporate art activities

Art activities can be used to express feelings and emotions, and it’s a great way to learn about culture and social skills. Don’t worry about the quality of their drawings or paintings, the most important thing is that it helps with the SEL goals you have in mind!

Make sure to stay consistent with how you incorporate art activities into your SEL. This will help your students with emotional intelligence, which is important for school success. It will also give them more examples of how people use art in their lives and careers, which can help them understand its importance. They might even be inspired to become an artist too!

Do daily greetings

Greetings are an important part of a school day. Not only do they help build relationships between students, but they also help to create a positive school culture.

Encourage students to greet each other with a smile or wave. In the lunch room, they can say hello to one another as they walk by their table and ask them how their day is going. On the playground after school, they can stop for a moment to talk about what happened in class that day — those conversations can lead to great things later on!

Use read alouds

Read alouds are a great way to build empathy. They can be used in all subject areas, which makes them an easy way to integrate social-emotional learning into your classroom. Read alouds help students learn how to listen and follow along with stories, as well as develop their vocabulary. This will also help students develop their listening skills, which are essential for success in school and life.

Use journal writing

Journal writing is a great way to get to know your students. It’s also a great way for them to get to know themselves. Journal writing can be used as a tool for reflection on our own emotions, as well as an opportunity for students to learn more about one another.

When you ask your students to journal, make sure they understand that the purpose is not just to write down whatever comes into their mind at the moment, but rather to reflect on what they are feeling and why they are feeling it, or how their emotions have changed over time.

For example, you can have students write about their favorite books, movies, or TV shows. They could talk about what they liked or didn’t like about them, and why they feel that way.

Create a classroom environment that promotes safety and respect

Students who feel safe are more willing to share their ideas and experiences, which allows for the development of social and emotional skills. When it comes to creating this environment, your tone of voice plays a big role. Listen carefully to yourself when speaking with students or talking about them in front of others — if you notice negativity creeping into your speech, take note of it and consider ways to avoid it. 

When interacting with students on a daily basis, try using body language that shows respect for them as individuals, such as keeping eye contact with each student when speaking with them. Avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets while addressing someone else’s concerns because these actions communicate disinterest rather than engagement. 

Be consistent in your expectations so that everyone knows what is expected from them academically as well as behaviorally.  Finally, keep an open mind when listening during feedback discussions with parents.


Social-emotional learning is an important part of education that not only helps students understand what they’re learning but also be successful in the future. It’s essential that teachers are equipped to teach this, which means having these skills themselves! With these 12 simple ways to integrate social-emotional learning into your classroom, you can help your students learn how to manage their emotions and make good decisions while still having fun doing so.

Photo credit: Google Education

Your toolkit for a successful year

FREE SEL TEMPLATES to lighten your workload and effectively manage your classroom

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Social Emotional Learning

Your toolkit for a successful year

FREE SEL TEMPLATES to lighten your workload and effectively manage your classroom

Download now