Planning for 2020-21: SEL in a Remote Learning Environment

Shifting from the classroom to remote learning doesn’t just happen overnight – and yet most educators across the country made that impossible feat happen in the spring. As we enter a new school year, educators have some time to actually plan. Schools planning for remote learning are continuing to invest in their digital learning resources, provide training for educators, and ensure that students have access to WiFi-connected devices at home. Download our new SEL Toolkit: Planning for Reentry

The start of a new school year is a critical time to build relationships, set expectations, and start new routines that help students transition to a learning environment. Remote social emotional learning can support all of these traditions and help teachers and students feel connected while apart. 

Here are 3 considerations for SEL in a remote learning environment: 

1. Connect with students as a whole class, in small groups, or one on one to check in with each other. 

Leverage technology to build relationships. Ideally, you are able to use a video chat platform that allows you to talk face-to-face. If that’s not available to you, a video-sharing platform like Flipgrid can make it possible to connect. You can also schedule phone call check-ins with students and their families.

Experiment with different types of connections throughout the week, too. A whole-class meeting can be a place where you foster a sense of belonging as a group. Smaller group meetings can be a place for students to share their emotions with one another, while individual check-ins provide the opportunity to check on specific students. 

Create classroom connections at the start of the year by using conversation starters. We’ve created Non-Corona Conversation Starters to help you get to know each other better at the start of a new year.

2. Create weekly challenges or activities to share with families and foster a sense of community school-wide while students are learning from home. 

This is a great way to build school spirit, have fun, and invite students to express themselves! Pose a challenge on Monday and allow students to post their responses all week. Find a way to celebrate their responses, either by compiling them into a document or web page to share with your community, or highlighting some responses on your school’s website! 

Topics can focus on concepts such as gratitude, empathy, and self-reflection. For example, you can ask students to share something they are grateful for, participate in a dance challenge, or share their favorite book! Check out this Passion Party Presentation idea for a fun weekly challenge!

3. Provide frequent opportunities for reflection. 

Incorporate writing prompts into your lessons that ask students to reflect on how they feel. A written reflection gives you the opportunity to understand how every student is feeling. If students struggle with writing, you can also have them record their answer with an audio or video recording. 

Download our SEL Toolkit: Planning for Reentry to read more considerations for SEL in a remote learning environment, including printable resources. 

Starting the year with a strong social emotional learning initiative can help create a sense of community and build relationships. SEL will also support students and their families, as well as educators, as they continue to navigate the challenges of working and learning from home. 

Consistent and explicit SEL practice provides students with a common language around emotions, and allows your class to become more comfortable discussing emotions. This can be helpful as you continue to connect with students throughout the year and check on their wellbeing. 

A video-based curriculum like Move This World is a great way for students to experience SEL together, and to share SEL with families! Teachers can share videos with families or play them during a class video call to practice SEL exercises together. Learn more about how Move This World works here. Or, complete the form below to learn more about implementing Move This World in a remote learning environment. 

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