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Three Ways for Educators to Practice Social Emotional Learning

May 5, 2020 / by Christina Bruno

With schools and businesses closed all around the world, many of us are learning to cope with the challenges of being socially isolated at home. At the same time, parents and educators are trying to figure out what they can feasibly teach at home with limited resources and sometimes limited content expertise. The good news is social and emotional learning can help us address feelings of isolation, and it is also an area that is relevant no matter what your “classroom” looks like right now.

Empatico has always been focused on creating opportunities for connection, and we are eager to continue this work now. As educators and families adjust to a new reality of remote learning, we have expanded our core classroom to classroom video exchange offering to include resources that can be used at home to spread empathy and community. Below are three ways you and your students can stay connected while keeping social and emotional skills sharp.

1. Engage Your Learners in Social and Emotional Learning at Home

All Empatico activities focus on four key skills: respectful communication, critical thinking, cooperation, and perspective taking. We have adapted two of these skills - perspective taking and respectful communication - into bite-size activities that empower caregivers to foster social and emotional learning at home while also focusing on literacy skills. Even though students may be separated from their friends and peers, we can help them maintain well-being and infuse SEL into their daily lives through simple exercises. These exercises build on our research-backed approach to supporting empathy development in young learners.

2. Try an Asynchronous Exchange with Another Classroom

While a live classroom to classroom video exchange may not be possible right now, connecting through Empatico can still be a great opportunity to learn how other communities are approaching or defining “learning” during this time and a great way for students to stay connected with each other while physically apart. Empatico can match your classroom with another classroom based on student ages, time zones, and activity preferences. Once matched, your classes can share video and image files to explore how your communities have adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic. You might share how you and your students are continuing lessons, keeping in touch with friends and family, celebrating special occasions like birthdays and holidays, and perhaps most importantly, taking care of yourselves and your communities. You can also explore Empatico’s pen pal letter guide to connect students directly.

3. Connect with Other Educators

We know students aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of social isolation, so we are also offering a limited series of brand new ‘Empathy Hours’ - virtual “meetups” for educators, experts, and caregivers to stay connected, find a sense of community, and support one another through trying times. We hope this will be a space for educators and parents to explore new educational strategies and navigate remote learning together. By bringing together experts and learning networks, we will encourage one another and share insights around adult wellbeing, remote teaching, maintaining student connections, and practicing mindfulness. We invite you to sign up here for our next Empathy Hour.

We have been so inspired by the resilience and creativity of educators in this moment, and we hope these resources will help educators and families navigate social isolation and remote learning together. Please feel free to reach out to us at support@empatico.org with any questions - we would love to help you stay connected.

Topics: SEL, distance learning, connected classrooms

Christina Bruno

Written by Christina Bruno

Christina is the Head of Marketing at Empatico, a free online tool that connects classrooms around the world to spark empathy. Prior to joining the team, she led development and partnership strategy at several education organizations including Teach For America-Las Vegas Valley and Educators for Excellence-New York. Christina has a deep appreciation for educators and firmly believes in the power of education to bring individuals and communities together.

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