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Blog: Friday, May 28th, 2021

Embedding SEL into the Classroom

Social-emotional learning (SEL) has become increasingly important in educating youth and even adults around positive mental health. As we navigate through CoVid, the need for intentional SEL in the classroom has become imperative. Yale Secondary School is trying, through a grassroots initiative, to help embed SEL into the classroom with the aid of videos to help teachers direct activities that support positive mental health.

Every week since the start of this school year, an SEL video activity has been shared with staff. Through collaboration, three staff members and a variety of students brainstorm ideas and co-create these videos. Those staff that are interested, play the video and have students participate in whatever the activity might be for that week. Activities range from meditations, mindful eating, chair yoga/zumba all the way to art therapy just to name a few. Staff and students are also encouraged to try the activity over multiple days in the week to see if it is an activity that works for them personally. It’s all about inquiry through an introspective lens. Everyone has very individual needs when it comes to managing stress and anxiety and these activities provide different ways to help cope with those stresses.

Furthermore, the activities are not only intended to help manage stress but also to help with general performance in school, sports and life in general. Each activity is about 5-8 minutes long and provides an opportunity for staff and students to ready themselves for the learning of the day at the start of the class, as a nice reset and break during the class itself, or even as a calming closing activity. Feedback from students and staff participants has been positive. Not all activities appeal to everyone but generally speaking, most activities appear to be helping calm the mind and body and are being practiced outside of the classroom as well.

The ultimate goal is to have a large number of staff engaging their students in SEL activities, making it a means by which students, and staff alike, learn about their own mental health. As of yet, only a handful of staff from a couple of high schools are participating but with time and continued exposure, hopefully learning experiences for staff and students become progressively more SEL informed.

A repository of all the activities can be found here: https://yale.abbyschools.ca/node/58086

Soraya Rajabally
Yale Secondary