More Teacher-Recommended SEL Activities and Resources


Lisa Xagas, District 203 Director of Student Service, said it best, “SEL is not one more thing on the plate, it is the plate.”

We understand your proverbial plate is overflowing already. We also know how much educators value social and emotional learning (SEL), so we’ve compiled another list of teacher-recommended resources and strategies to help you get started with making SEL the foundation of your existing professional practices.

Many educators in our SEL courses are pleasantly surprised to realize they are already focusing on the SEL needs of students. For example, a high school Spanish teacher in Illinois shared how she promotes self-awareness in her classroom by giving students opportunities to complete “Glow and Grow” reflections. After finishing assignments and assessments, students identify something they did well (glow) and an area they would like to improve (grow). What a simple, yet powerful exercise to develop and strengthen self-awareness.

Several educators use literature as a springboard for discussions about morals and ethics. A countless number of wonderful children’s books have been written with valuable messages. This link includes a blog article from our archives with some book recommendations involving honesty, embracing differences, friendship, empathy, teamwork, kindness, and gratitude.

An elementary teacher shared that she uses the 4-minute video animation, “The Present”, as an anchor for class discussions and as a writing topic about empathy. This touching video is about a boy who seems to prefer video games more than anything else until he receives a dog with a missing leg as a gift from his mom.

A high school math teacher discussed how she fosters relationships in her classroom by having students sit in teams of four to share ideas and to work on math problems together. She forms new teams with each new math chapter and has students do icebreakers to help them get to know each other. She also has students take a “team test” consisting of open-ended and deeper-level thinking questions about the new content.

As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “Academic mindsets are beliefs or ways of perceiving oneself in relation to learning, and they lay the groundwork for deep academic, social and emotional learning.” Educators have highlighted a number of ways they positively impact the mindsets of students. For example, offering opportunities to make corrections and revisions on tests and assignments is a valuable way to reinforce the concept of learning from our mistakes. This lesson plan, focused on the brain and how it learns, includes several engaging activities to help cultivate a growth mindset among students.

Finally, this document includes SEL-integrated lesson plans across grade levels and content areas, created to help students develop and strengthen skills involving:

  • Working cooperatively
  • Identifying emotions elicited by text
  • Contributing responsibly to group work and making shared decisions
  • Explaining their thinking, understanding their partner’s thinking, reaching agreement, and persevering

Still unsure about where to get started with incorporating SEL into your lessons? CASEL provides this checklist to help teachers identify places in lesson plans where SEL practices are already present, or where they could be included.

Even seemingly small gestures go a long way. When my son started in-person kindergarten in January of 2021 (we had chosen the virtual option for the first semester of 2020/21), the school counselor was standing outside (on a literally freezing cold Wisconsin winter day) with a list of all the names of the new students, so she could welcome and greet each of them by name. This gesture meant so much to me, and I'm sure you're touching the lives of many students and families whom you work with, too.

Please share your own ideas for how you make SEL the foundation of your professional practices.

Here are a few classes related to this topic:

Jill Rockwell
Jill has over 13 years of experience as a licensed teacher in the areas of Special Education, Reading Education, and Health Education. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. She fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of all educators by providing engaging, meaningful, and applicable activities which can be used to enhance teaching practices. She focuses on research-based best practices and technology integration throughout her own instructional practices. Together with her husband and two young boys, Jill enjoys traveling, biking and the changing seasons of the great outdoors in Wisconsin. 

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