5 Ways to Fit in SEL in Upper Elementary

5 Ways to Fit in Social Emotional Learning in your upper elementary classroom

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Social Emotional Learning Made Easy

Do you ever feel like if you get asked to cover one more topic in the limited time you have, your brain might explode? Me too! In the over ten years I’ve been teaching, we only get asked to teach more with less instructional time.

SEL seemed like it was one of those extra things that I didn’t have time for. That is, until I realized that I did more SEL than I thought. I just didn’t always call it that. 🙃 Then, I started to make easy, intentional changes to incorporate just a little more SEL into my day.

5 Ways to Fit in SEL

  1. Picture books: During the first week of school, I had at least five books specifically targeting respect, collaboration, empathy, identity, and acceptance. During the school year, I started adding in more books to address SEL needs. Taking 5-10 minutes for an extra read aloud was worth the time for an easy, efficient lesson. We often would make connections back to the books throughout the year. For example, Don’t Hug Doug is a favorite of mine! I’m not a hugger, and I’ve had issues with kids being too handsy, even in a non-aggressive way. This book was a fabulous way to talk about asking for permission and keeping our hands to ourselves. See this Amazon list for my fave titles.
  2. Five Finger Check In: On a scale of 1 to 5, I ask students how they’re feeling about a variety of topics. Sometimes it’s how our class is doing following our norms. Other times it’s how comfortable they feel about writing a summary or multiplying two-digit numbers. Or how much they liked (or disliked) a book we read. Seeing students’ responses gives me an overall idea about their emotions and lets me know if I need to check in with certain students later. Make a copy by clicking here.
  3. Google Form Check In: I used these weekly when we were virtual back in 2020. They worked as a simple way to see how everyone was doing, and I always included a “would you rather” question to encourage responses. I was amazed at what some students felt comfortable typing out to tell me. While I don’t need this as much now that I’m in person, it’s definitely a great way to touch base with students when you don’t have much class time. Grab it free here.
  4. Morning message prompts: I’ve used these in a community morning meeting when my schedule allows and also as a whiteboard question-of-the-day, where students answer starting with arrival throughout the day. The whiteboard version allowed more time to think, while also allowing students who came in late to answer. See more details here.
  5. Checklist for chats: Check in with 2-3 students daily for a couple minutes. Ask them what they’re reading, what their hobbies are, or what’s something new they tried recently. Use a class checklist to help you remember who you’ve checked in with, so you can make sure not to skip anyone. This is an easy way to keep those relationships going and allows for more connections with introverted students. Once you’ve checked everyone off, start over!
These daily prompts are something my students look for as soon as they come in the classroom!

Are you ready to fit in SEL daily now?

I hope these ideas help you find ways to build relationships with your students! Relationships are one of the three pillars of classroom management (along with routine and structure!). 

Looking for more strategies to strengthen classroom management? Here are two free resources you might like!

This free course will help get you started in the right direction!

Already started, but your students need a refresher? Try this Classroom Management Reboot Guide.

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