Randa Suleiman
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Upper Primary, Middle School, High School, Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division, Graduate
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Social Emotional Learning in Virtual Classroom

Social Emotional Learning in Virtual Classroom


Social Emotional Learning in Virtual classroom focuses on integrating three main routines to support SEL in a virtual classroom The three routines are check-in, community building, and mindfulness.  


There are three main sections: Check-in, community building, and Mindfulness The three sections are presented in that sequence. The way this material is organized is by describing various strategies under each section that teachers can pick and implement in their virtual teaching. The material is not in a particular order. One or more strategies can be used in the same lesson. 

The purpose of Check-in is to answer the question: How are you doing today? By answering the question, teacher candidates can self-check and share how they are doing. To keep this interesting, I use various strategies. One strategy is using a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the worst day and 10 is the best day. Teacher candidates can share by showing their number on the screen or they can share it in the chat. The other strategy is to use Emojis. I select various emojis that represent various emotions and ask teacher candidates to use annotate or chat to share how they are doing. To keep it fresh, you can use GIFs or funny pictures, or cartoons instead of Emojis. A third strategy is to use an Emotion Thermometer. It is similar to the scale but more colorful. Teacher candidates can use annotate or chat to share the temperature (lower temp represents negative feelings where hot temp represents good feelings) of how they are doing today.  Finally, I use various colors to represent emotions and how someone might be doing. Teacher candidates use annotate or chat to select the color that represents how they are doing. At the end of check-in, I ask three volunteers to share how they are doing verbally. 

Check-in at the beginning of each class supports the first component of SEL which is Self-Awareness. It is defined as the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts (CASEL, 2021). The strategies described earlier align with the individual capacity to “Identify one’s emotions” as identified by CASEL. 

Community Building Activity: Meet and Greet  
Community Building Activity “Meet and Greet” allows teacher candidates to connect with others through focused activity. They will get to know each other at multiple levels and allow you to find connections. The main strategy here is the “Ice Breaker.” Again, I use various approaches to keep it fresh and interesting. One strategy to use is the spin wheel to randomly pick a teacher candidate's name paired with Quizlet. On the Quizlet cards, various questions will be randomly selected to get to know the teacher candidates, Teacher candidates will answer the questions and find common themes amongst them to start building the learning community. Another approach is the use of games. We play a game such as Word Search. we do a word search puzzle to find the names of all who are in attendance. OR, we play a game of “Making Words” by finding positive words out of letters and then use the words to make a statement as we share. Many times, we found that participants tend to find more words than what we intended. It brings up conversations and laughs. Another game we play is “Never Have I Ever” using five fingers instead of 10. I ask all teacher candidates to hold their hands up in front of the camera showing five fingers, I randomly select a teacher candidate to get us started. As one starts the game by sharing something they’ve never done, others put one finger down if they’ve done it before. Then the next person does and so forth. Another example of a game is “I Spy…” A volunteer gets the group started by saying “I Spy…” and then names an item in someone's background. Then, they would call on someone to identify the person with the item in their background. They have two guesses before the first person shares the answer. This game allows participants to pay extra attention to other participants in the class or the meeting and get to know each other more. A different approach is to use personal sharing. One example is to ask teacher candidates to share “what asset they bring to class” OR “Positive experience they had this week” or “What motivates them to keep going” or “What to do they do when they feel stressed out” or “How do they take care of themselves.”  To keep it fresh, one time, I ask teacher candidates to share using chat, or whiteboard, or draw a visual, or verbally in breakout rooms. Another way of doing the same strategy is to ask teacher candidates to select and share an Affirmation. You can create a depository of Affirmations. Teacher candidates can write positive messages to each other. You can drop all messages in the repository where teacher candidates can randomly pick one and share. 

Building a learning community using Meet and Greet supports the second component is Social-Awareness defined as the ability to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, & contexts (CASEL, 2021). The “Meet and Greet” strategy aligns well with multiple capacities identified by CASEL such as taking others’ perspectives, recognizing strengths in others, demonstrating empathy and compassion, showing concern for the feelings of others, understanding and expressing gratitude, and identifying diverse social norms, including unjust ones. Building relationships and knowing people well are integral to our mental and emotional health as well as to our survival. Building relationships leads to less stress, better healing, healthier behaviors, and sense of purpose. Being online might lead some to feel isolated, alone, afraid, and disconnected. Using the “Meet and Greet” strategy allows participants to interact with each other in a safe environment while building relationships and getting to know each other.

This is the final and critical step before we start our learning experience in class. I use mindfulness to prepare us to present and learn. I use breathing techniques for one minute. During this section, we focus on our breathing and mobility. Deep breathing help in reducing stress, and preparing teacher candidates to handle difficult situations by allowing them to be a better listener. I start the minutes by taking three deep inhales and exhales, then we start gradually adding mobility movement with a focus on shoulders mobility, wrist mobility, and chest mobility. To keep it fresh, I would lead the mindful minute or I would select a one-minute mindfulness video that we follow. Allowing ourselves to stop for one minute to take a deep breath and move our muscles supports our mental and physical health. Some of the mobility movements that we do are rolling the shoulders to the front five times and then to the back five times. For the arms, we extend them over the head and lean to the right and then to the left which supports back health. For the wrist, we roll them in one direction and then we switch.