SEL at Home: BASIS Independent McLean Impacts the Entire Community

Over the past 2 months, schools have shifted teaching and learning in a way they have never done before. From solving problems like access to devices and the internet, to innovating new ways to deliver content, track attendance, and engage parents, it feels like there have been more changes in the past 2 months than in the past 10 years! 

Hear from some of our partner schools to learn more about how they have been facilitating social emotional learning remotely. We hope you gather some ideas to help support your school communities, too! 

BASIS Independent McLean in McLean, Virginia has been using Move This World for the past two years, so when they transitioned to remote learning they knew that supporting social emotional learning needed to be a top priority! We spoke with Clara Gaul, Dean of Toddlers-Kindergarten to learn how they’ve been facilitating SEL remotely – even for the youngest of learners! 

MTW: What does virtual learning look like in your school community right now? 

Ms. Gaul: Our school jumped right in to distance learning in mid-March following our Spring Break. We are using Microsoft Teams to post daily lessons, activities, and optional assignments for our students. We are using Zoom to host live classes, meetings, and social gatherings. 

MTW: What does SEL look like in your school community right now? 

Ms. Gaul: We are really making an effort to prioritize our students’ social-emotional learning during this time. Our teachers and administrators are regularly checking-in with each of our students and families and ask how they are doing on a regular basis. Many teachers, students, and parents are experiencing big feelings during this time. It is critical for us to acknowledge how we’re feeling in order to maintain our human connection and to empathize with one another. Our teachers are also continuing to implement Move This World daily in their live sessions via Zoom. The students are able to share out and discuss the video each day just like they did in the classroom. Keeping this consistency in their routine has been very beneficial during these uncertain times. 

A PreK student practices her Emogers while learning from home. 

MTW: How has SEL impacted your school community during this time? 

Ms. Gaul: During our first week of distance learning, we shared the “3 Minutes of Happiness” activity with all of our families: toddler through grade three. One of our teachers, who is also a mom of two, shared that her family completed the 3 minute challenge together at home and felt more connected than ever. They appreciated that the activity was light-hearted and focused on positive thinking.

MTW: Has anything surprised you as you’ve practiced SEL at home? 

Ms. Gaul: I have noticed an increase in my own awareness during Move This World when I pop into live sessions. In the classroom, my focus is on observing our students interacting with the MTW content. I realized I wasn’t truly interacting with the content myself besides just “going through the motions.” I will definitely be carrying this back with me when we return to campus. Being present in the moment with the students is key! 

MTW: What advice do you have for other schools who want to help families practice SEL at home right now?  

Ms. Gaul: Normalize talking about your feelings and being vulnerable. We have had many conversations with parents over the past seven weeks who have expressed how hard this time is, especially with young children. Once this is over, the one thing that will remain and stick with us is how well we listened, showed love, and practiced showing genuine empathy for one another.  

Thank you, Ms. Gaul, for sharing how SEL is continuing to impact your students as you Move This World from home! Your work not only impacts your students and their families, but teachers and their families as well!

This time of school closures has brought unprecedented challenges for all of us, and schools have had to shift to remote learning very quickly. Our partner schools have navigated those challenges with SEL at the forefront of their work, and we hope their stories give you ideas about supporting SEL in your school community, too! 

Are you ready to implement social emotional learning in your district or school? Share your information and we’ll be in touch!

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