The world looks up to teachers to craft the souls of a generation, to develop their character, to inspire hope, instil confidence and nurture their curiosity. Teachers are also expected to take care of the social and emotional development of children — to impart in them social skills as well as emotional intelligence which will prepare the young minds of today to face the world when they grow up.
The society has entrusted us teachers with arguably the most important job in the world.
And then it has thrown in a plethora of other tasks on our plate as well.
Finishing the syllabus, lesson planning, creating assignments, developing assessments, grading, managing attendance and so many others.
How will the teachers then focus on the social and emotional dimensions of student development?
This is particularly a challenging task due to the lack of a predefined framework or metrics to measure social-economic development. This area is highly subjective and solely based on the teacher’s understanding and judgement.
In this post, we will walk you through a few techniques that’ll enable teachers to cater to the social and emotional developmental needs of students.
Creating a Conducive Classroom Environment
As teachers, it is our responsibility to create a safe and supportive environment that addresses the needs of our students in both physical and virtual classroom settings. One of the best things we can do for our students is to create a positive classroom culture.
This means fostering a sense of community, promoting respect and kindness, and encouraging open communication and active listening. When students feel safe and valued, they are more likely to engage in the learning process and take risks in their thinking.
One way to foster a positive classroom culture is through the use of class meetings. These can be held in person or virtual mode, and provide an opportunity for students to share their thoughts and feelings, discuss and problem-solve issues, and build a sense of community. These meetings can be structured or flexible, but should always be a safe space where students feel heard and respected.
We can go a step further and encourage parents to do the same at home, and help create and nurture conscious awareness about the importance of healthy surrounding that’s conducive for learning and development.
Another important aspect of social and emotional development is self-awareness. This includes understanding one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, as well as being aware of the impact these have on others. You can encourage self-awareness through activities such as journaling, self-reflection and mindfulness exercises, and urge students to translate these activities into regular habits.
It has been reiterated by many successful and revered personalities that journaling is a powerful tool in building self-awareness as it’s a personal record of our life incidents, feelings and emotions. When we read what we’ve written, it gives us an outside-in perspective which can help us understand ourselves better and also develop better understanding about others’ behaviours towards us.
Thales said, “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”
We are not saying that it’s easy to get young and innocent minds started on their journey of self-awareness. However, as teachers we can certainly lay a strong foundation and nudge them in the right direction.
Developing Social Skills
It is also important to teach students social skills such as communication, collaboration and empathy. These skills are vital not only in the classroom, but also in life. We can teach these skills through activities such as group work, class discussions, and role-playing.
In virtual classrooms, it is even more important to create a sense of community and connection because the physical distance can come in the way of natural camaraderie and bonding. But, worry not.
There are many ways to make it work. For example, conducting group discussions, presentation sessions, roleplaying or use technology platforms that allow students to share their thoughts and ideas in a video format.
Taking Care of the Mental Health
In addition to all of the points mentioned above, it is also important to be aware of the mental health of our students. Many children are struggling with stress and anxiety due to several reasons that are beyond our scope of understanding. It is our responsibility to identify the behavioural patterns that hint at these problems and take the right steps to offer support. This includes being aware of the signs of stress and anxiety.
In some cases, it can be quite challenging to win the trust of students who are demonstrating alarming behaviours, in which case, we can always take help of the school counsellors, parents or professionals.
None of what we have written above can be practised if we don’t take care of ourselves. If we are stressed and don’t feel happy, our students would understand and their state of mind might get affected too.
Now we are not talking about faking a smile or constantly laughing at the silliest of things. But to try and stay in a positive state of mind.
We should prioritise or well-being with healthy practices such as exercises, eating healthy, meditating, Yoga, reading, listening to the music we like or anything that uplifts our mood and mental state.
That brings us to the end of this post. We hope what we’ve shared above will be of use to you and make your lives as teachers a bit easier.
Before ending it, let’s do a quick recap.
Addressing the social and emotional development of students is vital to their all-round growth and performance. By creating a positive classroom culture, fostering self-awareness, teaching social skills, being aware of the mental health of our students and taking care of ourselves, we can help them thrive in academic as well as adult life.
As teachers, we have the responsibility to make a difference in the lives of our students. TeachPro+ is here to help you with everything you need to shoulder this responsibility.
TeachPro+ is a community portal dedicated to the growth and development of teachers. We have recently launched our Teacher’s program called iTeach 101 which an increasing number of professional educators, trainers and coaches are benefiting from. If you’re interested to know more about it, you can check it out here.