Social and Emotional Learning Part 4 of 5: 5 Strategies to Improve Relationship Skills in the Classroom


Maintaining friendships, asking for help, working cooperatively, etc. - interpersonal skills are a critical component of the development of children. When students demonstrate strong relationship skills, instructional time increases while conflicts, arguing, and fighting decreases. Class cohesion increases self-confidence among students as they help one another and interact positively with adults.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), defines relationship skills as: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

Effective relationship skills do not come naturally for everyone. Fortunately, these skills can be taught, modeled, and practiced in the classroom. Here are five ideas to weave into your teaching practices to support your students.

Inspire your students to work together as a team with this short video clip where the members of the marching band are the stars of this football game! Discuss the communication, practice, and teamwork involved with this impressive performance.

Class Meetings
Foster a sense of community in your classroom by facilitating regular class meetings or “circle time.” Class meetings give students the opportunity to voice their concerns, opinions, and ideas. From discussing current events to resolving conflicts - the purpose of meetings can vary from day to day. Read more about how to facilitate class meetings here.

Asking for Help
Remind students that even adults struggle with asking for help sometimes. This CBS This Morning segment gives us all a different perspective – people like helping! As highlighted in the segment, helping others often boosts our moods, self-esteem, and sense of belonging and well-being. Have a discussion with your students about how it feels to ask for help, and how it feels to help others. Talk about how accepting help and offering to help others will positively impact their futures.

Cooperative Games
Mix things up in your classroom with game time. Critical thinking, teamwork, and communication skills - the benefits involved with playing cooperative games are well worth the time invested. Check out this link for a list of eight teambuilding activities for students of all ages. Or organize a New Friend Scavenger Hunt to foster connections and bonds with and among your students.

Peer Interviews
Turn your classroom into a press conference by facilitating this peer interview project from readwritethink. Students will strengthen their listening and speaking skills (as well as their writing and research skills) while connecting with their peers at a deeper level.

Interested in learning more about cultivating a classroom filled with students who demonstrate cooperation, teamwork, and problem-solving skills? Registration for our new course Social and Emotional Learning: Promoting Positive Mental Health Across the Curriculum opens soon!

Did you read the rest of the series?

Social and Emotional Learning- Part 1 of 5: Self-Management Strategies in the Classroom

Social and Emotional Learning- Part 2 of 5: Self-Awareness Strategies in the Classroom

Social and Emotional Learning- Part 3 of 5: Social Awareness Strategies in the Classroom

Social & Emotional Learning- Part 5 of 5: Responsible Decision-Making

Additional Resources

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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