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  • Writer's pictureKristin Sima

How to Add Social Emotional Learning into Your Morning Meetings!

Social emotional learning (SEL) can easily be embedded into your daily classroom schedule. 

Consider incorporating social emotional learning strategies into something you are already doing…like morning meetings! It’s a prime time during your busy day to provide a space for students to build and practice vital skills like understanding themselves and others, managing their emotions, making good choices, and solving problems.

A teacher asking questions
A teacher asking questions

How I’ve Done It In My Classroom:

  1. To spark important conversations about friendship and problem-solving skills, I start by using real-life images or posters showing children in various situations interacting with peers or adults. These visuals help anchor discussions that are relatable and meaningful to students. I also use pictures of different facial expressions to help children identify feelings, show care and support for others, and develop empathy. Real pictures allow children to connect more deeply as they can relate to them better. If you don't have access to an SEL curriculum program with real-life photos or posters, consider using pictures from books in your classroom or seeking resources at your local library.

  1. Asking open-ended questions and using the same picture all week can deepen discussions. I use questions like, "What do you think is happening between friends in this picture?" or "What emotions do you see?" and expand on children’s responses to encourage children to share and build on each other's ideas. They can also reflect on how they'd feel and brainstorm ways to help. This approach fosters empathy and self-awareness. Adults should guide, not control, discussions, letting kids connect with each other and the topic. This is also a chance for children to talk, listen, ask, and learn from each other. We often use the term, “listen to learn”. This cues the children that we are about to work together, to help and support our peers as well as feel supported ourselves.

  1. Next, we tackle problem-solving as a group. I prompt my students to suggest tools and strategies for various situations, like deep breathing, getting a drink of water, seeking help from a friend or adult (which could mean having a chat, being a good listener, or offering comfort), using words to explain what's going on, or taking a timeout in a quiet spot like the library or cozy corner.

In our classroom, we've seen that spending a few extra minutes during morning meetings on these topics has helped students regulate their emotions better, understand how they and others feel, and use the right words to express themselves. What we discuss in morning meetings often continues through our classroom day. It is exciting to hear our children teaching  or using tools and strategies discussed earlier.  We've also noticed fewer behavioral issues and stronger relationships among students and teachers. By nurturing a caring atmosphere, we've made our classroom a place where students feel happy to be.

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