Author: Jeremy Crowe
Jeremy is a fourth grade teacher in Chicago, who specializes in social and emotional learning. He is passionate about instilling self-awareness, personal accountability, and empathy in his students. You can find him over in the Markers and Minions Teacher Community Facebook group with weekly posts every Tuesday.
What is Social and Emotional Learning (S.E.L)?
Social and Emotional Learning encourages us to see ourselves as a teacher of what it means to be human, to have complex emotions, and how to deal with them in a mindful way. It is used as a proactive and integrated approach to student misbehavior and self-regulation that teaches accountability through reflection and practice. Social and Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) also alleviates burnout among educators, creating a more positive, empathetic school culture, leaving you feeling more in control of your reactions to student misbehavior and other daily challenges.
Jeremy's Discovery of S.E.L
I discovered the concept of Social and Emotional Learning (S.E.L) in a book I read after my first year as a first grade teacher on the southside of Chicago. As most new teachers I was not prepared for the issues I would face in the classroom and felt completely overwhelmed. I was barely keeping my head above water and to be quite honest… I was miserable. I began to doubt if teaching was the profession for me.
My students came from food desert communities that were poverty-stricken, unsafe, and traumatic. These traumatic experiences played a direct part in my students’ misbehavior in the classroom and on their ability to build meaningful relationships with themselves and others. Physical aggression and yelling was a common reaction to redirection and a form of constant opposition.
I wanted to teach my students how to respond to challenges, overcome adversity, and create healthy relationships with their peers, but I didn’t know where to start. I began asking experienced teachers for advice but to no avail; they were facing the same issues with little to no success in creating change.
This left me feeling…perplexed.
That Lightbulb Moment
That summer I began applying what I read about S.E.L. into my own daily routine. I began by taking mindful breaths to be in the present moment which allowed me to be conscious of my emotions by identifying them, what caused them, and letting them pass. As a result, I found myself shifting my mindset from letting my emotions control me, to me controlling my emotions. I also felt more in control of my life and my reactions to what happens in my life. Thus, building and deepening relationships among friends, my partner, and family.
Then a lightbulb sparked. I discovered the missing piece of the puzzle.
I need to teach my students how to be socially and emotionally aware.
I spent the rest of that summer researching Social and Emotional Learning (S.E.L.) and collected ideas on how to incorporate this concept into the classroom. As a result, my students have repeatedly shown an increase in empathy and are able to self-regulate and self-reflect independently. If students are given the right strategies and taught how and what it means to be human, we are not only changing their lives, but our communities. It is a concept that is much harder than your average math problem, but many would argue it is so much more valuable.
Over time I have discovered and created ways to incorporate S.E.L. into classroom management systems, lesson plans, teacher-student interactions, peer interactions, and most importantly, teacher self-care. I want to bring positivity back into the world of education and share ways for students and teachers to live and think optimistically.
I am so excited to share the strategies I discovered that are transforming my classroom into an empathy driven, emotionally aware community. It’s something everyone benefits from and makes our classroom and community, just a little more mindful!
Forever a learner, never a master.
Join me every Tuesday for more S.E.L. tips!
Please share your questions and thoughts in comments below!