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How to Implement SEL in Your Classroom with Teenagers: Tips for Educators

September 02, 20223 min read


When it comes to implementing SEL in your classroom with teenagers, it can be a challenge. They are at an age where they are testing boundaries and trying to figure out their place in the world. 

However, it is also an age where they are incredibly receptive to new ideas and learning opportunities. If you want to create a positive and effective learning environment, follow these tips:

SEL in the classroom

1. Create a vision for the class together.

This will help set the tone for the year and give students a sense of ownership over their education. It also allows you both to be on the same page.

What kind of environment do you want to create?

What values do you want to uphold?

What goals do you want to achieve?

Answering these questions together will help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

It can be helpful to write down the vision or create a class charter that everyone can visualize, add to, reflect on, or for accountability.

2. Bring the student's voice into the class as much as possible.

Ask them what they think about current events or controversial topics, and let them lead discussions whenever possible. The more you can bring their voice into the classroom the more respect, trust, and positive environment you will have.

It's also important to let students know that their voices are heard outside of the classroom. Advocate for them, fight for their rights and be an ally whenever possible.

Teens need to feel like they have a safe place to voice their thoughts and feelings without judgment to fully open up and engage in learning.

3.Create a positive start to the class.

This means maybe starting the class with a brief breathing exercise, or having a "check-in" at the beginning of each class where everyone shares how they're feeling that day.

It could also be something as simple as starting each class with a smile and greeting every student by name at the door.

Making sure the students feel comfortable, safe, and respected from the minute they walk into your classroom is an essential part of SEL for students and being able to develop strong relationships with students.

4. Be vulnerable.

When you are vulnerable with students it makes you more human and helps them see you as someone who is just like them. It also allows them to trust you more, which is essential for an effective teacher-student relationship.

Of course, you don't want to share anything too personal or that would make you feel uncomfortable. But sharing something about yourself every now and then can make a big difference.

It could be as simple as admitting when you made a mistake, asking for an apology, expressing your feelings, something you have experienced or gone through, or even your story.

5.Get hands-on.

This is the best way to bring SEL into a classroom because it helps students break barriers and be able to push themselves out of their comfort zone. It can also connect them with the lessons they are learning in a more tangible way.

Some examples of hands-on activities are:

- Service learning projects

- Outdoor education

- Cooperative games or group work in class

- Field trips to places relevant to the lesson

- simulations or role-playing exercises

The list goes on, but the important part is that allowing students to engage during class in a way that isn't just listening to a lecture or reading from a textbook will help them learn and remember the material better, as well as help them develop the social and emotional skills they need.

SEL should be an essential part of every classroom, but it can be especially important when working with teenagers. By following these tips you can make sure to create a healthy and supportive learning environment for teens to thrive in. Did you know we can help your school with SEL? Schedule a call with us today to learn more, click here!

What other tips do you have for implementing SEL in the classroom? Share them in the comments below!

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Traci Bakenhaster

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