Research School Network: Weaving social and emotional learning (SEL) habits into whole school routines Introducing the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Pick and Mix Tool


Weaving social and emotional learning (SEL) habits into whole school routines

Introducing the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Pick and Mix Tool

Stella Jones is an experienced teacher and Director of Town End Associate Research School in Sunderland.

In the first blog in this series, we discussed why a focus on SEL is more important than ever and made some practical suggestions for how to seize on teachable moments as they arise. This second blog focuses on how you can weave SEL habits into your everyday routines.

Supporting learning behaviour through developing SEL

Pupils’ inability to regulate their emotions or maintain positive interactions with peers can result in disruption to learning. Evidence suggests that when implemented well, SEL strategies can have positive impacts on a range of outcomes, including attitudes, behaviours, and relationships with peers.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identify some core skills that lie at the heart of SEL. Investing time in building staff knowledge of these so that they can develop their pupils’ SEL skills could contribute to more positive learning behaviours within classrooms.

Core skills

Stick to routines

The fifth recommendation from the EEF’s Improving Social and Emotional Learning in Primary Schools guidance report raises the important role whole school routines have in reinforcing SEL skills. Small tweaks to assemblies, start and end of day routines, and existing school-wide communication systems all offer up the opportunity to re-enforce SEL skills.

Hook SEL onto existing routines

Hooking interactions that develop SEL competencies onto existing routines could be an effective way of enhancing the SEL offer across a school. Setting SEL themes and challenges’ for pupils and staff during assemblies can be one way of encouraging pupils to rehearse SEL competencies. Attaching a SEL check-in’ after you take the register can build a sense of community and provide opportunities for both adults and pupils to practise social and emotional skills.

Using the pick and mix resource
(download below)

The pick and mix resource that accompanies this blog, offers short activities to develop the core skills at the heart of SEL that could be hooked onto existing routines:

Self awarness

Pick and mix tool in action:

  • Keith as a Year 2 teacher has identified that his pupils struggle with relationship skills. Conflicts at breaktimes often spill over into lessons. To address this he has started to begin every afternoon session with a short discuss it’ activity from the pick and mix tool focused on relationship skills.
  • Gemma’s school is utilising assembly time to reenforce SEL skills. The focus for this half term is social awareness’. She begins with the discuss it’ section from the pick and mix resource, asking the pupils to consider how they might show kindness to others. At the end of the assembly, she sets the pupils a do it’ activity and asks pupils to write a list of ways to be kind in school and home to share with their class.

Considerations for leaders…

  • Do your staff understand the core SEL competencies?
  • How will you develop your approach to reinforcing core SEL skills across the day?
  • What actions will you ask teachers to commit to following any training – what follow up support will be needed?
  • How will you facilitate opportunities for staff to celebrate their success and discuss challenges?

For further ideas and support to make those small changes, here’s some further reading:

Reading Strategies to Support social and emotional learning, Shotton Hall blog

Seizing Upon SEL with Structured Talk, Shotton Hall blog

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SEL Pick and Mix Tool

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