Yesterday, I was greeting my students when I noticed a student clearly in distress walking to her next class. Her face was flushed and she was wiping tears above her mask. I didn’t know this student, but I knew that if she continued on to her class it would be difficult for her to learn, given her strong emotions. I stopped her and asked how I could help. I shared with her my observations regarding her emotions and asked her to share how she felt.
In my presentation Incorporating Social & Emotional Learning: A Bridge to Success in the World Language Classroom I discuss the value of identifying our emotions accurately. We don’t need a research study to show us that emotions play a large role in our students’ ability or inability to learn. Imagine this same emotionally distressed student trying to concentrate on taking notes or focusing on a test. Not possible. Her emotions were all consuming.
Using the RULER strategies and the Mood Meter from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence have been essential ways for me to bring Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and awareness into my classroom not only for my students, but for myself as well. Every day, we dedicate the first few minutes of class to checking in with ourselves and our emotions and reflecting on the cause of these emotions. Many of the wellness and SEL strategies available are focused on emotional regulation. Don’t get me wrong, regulating our emotions is hugely important, but by skipping this first step of identifying the emotion we are feeling, we are glossing over perhaps the most important part of our emotional well-being.
Throughout all of the emotional regulation strategies that I’ve learned, I’ve been able to circle back to these five strategies described in Krystenell Storr-Smith’sSeptember 2021 Scholastic article C’mon Get Happy! Storr-Smith follows two teens as they take the challenge of doing five simple tasks every day to see if this has a lasting impact on their happiness and well-being.
- Make your bed.
- Give a compliment.
- Write a list of 3 things you are grateful for.
- Do at least 10 minutes of exercise.
- Do one activity that you love.
I’m proud to say that all of my students can tell you these five strategies (in French of course), and while they may no longer remember why each of these tasks work, they know that they each contribute to their overall well-being.
Finally, we know that SEL is a competency that requires maintenance. While our goal is for all of our students to leave our language classrooms and use the target language in their everyday lives and careers, the reality is that this may not happen. In contrast, we can guarantee that every student will need to take care of their physical and emotional selves. They will encounter difficult moments in their lives where they will need the tools to regulate and manage their emotions. SEL matters—for everyone : teachers, students, administrators, and Parents.
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