SEL for Self, Colleagues and Students
Fortunately, like many of you in this forum, I have a strong relationship with my students. We establish classroom norms and communication standards at the very beginning of school then we execute those norms and standards daily. But, also like many of you, I am worried about creating those connections if we start next school year with distance learning only. We need a Hybrid that allows us to see our students in our classrooms weekly, as well as work with them through distance learning.
I have worked very hard to maintain the connections with my students through distance learning, but I don't think I have been very successful. I do large group, small group and individual meetings with them throughout the week. I also do phone check ins with them at least twice a week. But, things have changed and I can tell they are struggling. Many of them don't have video on their devices, so I can't see them. This is a hardship and impedes my relationship with them as I can't read their emotions, especially if they are good at masking them in their voices. I need to learn new online strategies for connecting with my students, especially if we start the new school year with distance learning, exclusively.
I am a firm believer in my own social emotional health. If I am not healthy in this area, it is difficult for me to help my students. The most positive thing that has helped me and supported me through distance learning is the colleague zoom I do every week. Some colleagues and I have been doing Zoom meetings every Friday since distance learning began. This has been incredibly positive for all of us. It has been a space where we can share ideas, talk about frustrations and offer support right now, as we need it. Our collaboration has grown into a trusted kinship. We feel comfortable doing group chats whenever anything comes up that we need to share or laugh about, even if it isn't on Friday! And, even though it doesn't sound like it is something that would help my students, it has. I have come to realize the fears and needs my colleagues have are very similar to those of my students. But, because my colleagues openly share and discuss those fears and needs, I have a better understanding of how to address what my students might be experiencing. Creating these small group supports next year among my students, might be a v valuable SEL strategy, and one I would like to try.