Give this post a chance before moving on in cyber space, I promise your students will thank you. Last week I promised myself to be more mindful in my use of acronyms without explanation. I will start here. If you are an English teacher please forgive me! What is ‘#SELbeforeTEL’?
SEL: Social and Emotional Learning
TEL: Technology Enhanced Learning
The #SELbeforeTEL hashtag was coined by Carrie Archer during the pandemic in reference to the need for Educators to prioritise Social and Emotional Learning before Technology Enhanced Learning. Basically, the need to focus on learners social needs and emotional welfare before kicking off an online lesson or spending time troubleshooting a shiny new tool that didn’t go to plan in the online classroom during Emergency Remote Teaching! We’ve all been there.
Now that we have started a new school year, this post is not about a debate on where responsibility for the integration of either SEL nor TEL falls. Instead I would like to explore what Educators can do on a practical level in their classroom to leverage technology to promote SEL. But first, why?
Why is SEL important in every classroom?
Despite the pressure Educators are under for time, results and supporting students; Education and classroom practice must focus on more than covering the syllabus. This is not a new idea, early in the twentieth century, educational reformer, Dewey’s research pointed to the need for the integration of SEL as a regular and natural part of the learning process in order to provide an effective learning experience for students (Dewey, 1916).
Research from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) indicates that regular focus on SEL supports students to “develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” Ultimately, we have a responsibility as Educators to contribute to the preparation of our students as citizens.
All to often, technology has the reputation as being responsible for dehumanising our day to day lives. In the words of Keynote Speaker and Global Edu Leader, Mark Sparvell, “The greatest potential for technology in education is to humanise the learning, not simply digitise the content.”
What can you do to quickly and easily introduce SEL to your classroom practice using TEL?
If you are a user of Office 365, have you heard about Microsoft Education’s Reflect Tool?
When used regularly, the Reflect tool can support students to ‘recognise and navigate their emotions by providing regular opportunities to share and be heard, broadening learners’ emotional vocabulary and deepening empathy for their peers.’
Reflect is built into both Teams and Class Notebook. It provides Educators with a quick and easy to use check-in where the tool does most of the work. It takes approximately 30 seconds to customise and launch a quick Reflect poll. As an Educator you can increase motivation for learning and boost engagement whilst prioritising time to support students to develop emotional awareness and self-regulation. Motivation, engagement and SEL are key elements in the recipe needed for students to be ready to learn.
Check out this video from Mike Tholfsen demonstrating how to use Reflect in Microsoft Teams for Education
Check out this video from Microsoft Education showing how to use Reflect check-ins in class Notebook.
Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. Macmillan
Microsoft Education (2022) Microsoft Reflect. [Webpage]