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Supporting Social and Emotional Learning During COVID-19

American Educator, Winter 2020-2021Nearly a year into the pandemic, students nationwide are navigating unprecedented challenges. This additional strain is of great concern to teachers, making social and emotional learning (SEL) more important than ever. While we hope that an effective vaccine will soon be widely available, we know that emotional and economic recovery will take time. With support, students can develop skills, such as processing feelings in a healthy manner, that will benefit them for life. In this light, we feature several resources for SEL available through Share My Lesson.

A Pandemic-Related Priority

An essential first step to supporting students’ learning is addressing the emotional impact of COVID-19. In the Share My Lesson webinar “Helping Children Regulate Emotions During Challenging Times,” Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, unpacks how adults can support children in validating and managing their feelings. The webinar includes practical strategies for self-regulation and case studies that can spark discussions and help students grow.

Similarly, the webinar “Fostering SEL and Self-Care for Our Students in the Coronavirus Era” focuses on positive ways students from preschool through high school can handle stress and anxiety. Presented by Victoria Cheng-Gorini of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, a Share My Lesson partner, the webinar offers guidelines for discussing difficult feelings and healthy ways to express them, such as through art, music, writing, and physical activities. For educators and caregivers facing pandemic-related stress in their own lives, the webinar also emphasizes the importance of self-care routines.

For those students who are grieving a loved one lost to COVID-19, the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, to which the AFT belongs, offers educators a free, comprehensive guide to its video and print resources. These include modules on connecting with families remotely and understanding grief triggers as well as information on organizations that support bereaved children and their families. Together, we can ensure that no student grieves alone.

Throughout the pandemic, it’s crucial to ensure the educator-student bond remains strong. To that end, the webinar “Comprehensive Whole Child Development: SEL Tools for In-Person and Distance Learning” shows teachers how to bolster these connections. Presented by Jessica Jackson of Digital Promise, Rachael Wilcox of the Francis Howell School District, and Share My Lesson, the webinar offers constructive ways to help students manage their time and emotions.

Beyond COVID-19

Even outside the context of the pandemic, studies find that nearly half of all young people have experienced childhood trauma; without a caring adult offering assistance, trauma can impede children’s social and emotional development. To support these students, educators can turn to a lesson titled “How to Help Students Below Their Age Appropriate Developmental Level for Social Emotional Learning.” Provided by AFT partner First Book, the lesson is an excerpt of its “Trauma Toolkit,” a free guide on what educators should know about adverse childhood experiences and ways to support student learning after trauma.

To help children in grades K–2 in developing social and emotional skills, Share My Lesson partner Discovery Education offers the lesson “Soar with Wings.” The detailed, multiday modules use role-play to help students manage emotions and engage in responsible decision-making.

Another productive strategy students can use when they feel upset or angry comes from Share My Lesson partner Operation Respect. In a lesson titled “Creating a Peace Place,” students figure out alternatives to inappropriate behavior, establish calming-down strategies, and cooperate with others to create a space in the classroom where they can self-regulate and feel better. Geared toward students in kindergarten through fifth grade, the lesson also includes modifications for students in grades six through twelve.
To see what other resources Share My Lesson offers on social and emotional learning, visit our entire collection of lesson plans, resources, and activities. If you have additional ideas or requests, please reach out to us at


American Educator, Winter 2020-2021
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