Four SEL takeaways from a year of remote learning

The pandemic has taken a toll on students’ mental health as they adjusted to the sweeping changes in their schools and communities. The move by many schools to distance or hybrid learning contributed to mental health issues like isolation, anxiety and depression.

Schools are recognizing the rising toll these mental health issues are having on students’ long-term wellbeing and we are, as a result, hearing a lot more this year about the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.  However in distance learning or hybrid environments, it can be more difficult for teachers to identify and address SEL concerns because they aren’t seeing students in person every day.

Earlier this school year we participated in a roundtable hosted by Impero Software the Learning Technology Center of Illinois (LTC), and Committee for Children to discuss SEL strategies for remote learning. Here are some of our takeaways and tips about teaching SEL in a distance learning environment, and which practices schools moving back to in-person learning should keep.

1. Take time to foster relationships with students. This is important and can be done whether students and teachers are in a physical classroom or holding class via an online meeting platform. For students, having a personal connection to their educational experience is really important for success, especially for the most vulnerable students we serve.

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