When assessing curriculum based skills, how do SEL components impact your ability to just look at mastery of content skills? What have you done to combat this confounding?

Last night, we had a thought-provoking #formativechat about integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom. I thought this was such an vital topic to discuss because while a student’s SEL skills can have a huge impact on their ability to achieve, the teaching of SEL skills is often overshadowed by the teaching of content ones.I am speaking from my teaching experience alone and am interested in learning more about what social-emotional learning looks like in your community/district/school/classroom.

How do you teach both SEL and content skills? How do SEL components impact your ability to assess student mastery of content skills? What have you done to combat this confounding?


@informed_members @Certified_Educators

Here’s a framework showing the 5 key SEL skills that students should develop in case it helps:


Ever since I discovered Maslow’s Hierarchy all my teaching has started with meeting the bottom rung of the ladder. If those needs are not met how can a student learn? My students will not do hardly anything if they don’t think they are in a relationship with a teacher who cares and shows up to work. They want the teacher to be prepared and see the teacher has endurance no matter what obstacle might be thrown their way - like bad behavior. Students want to be treated fairly and be held accountable.
How do SEL components impact your ability to assess student mastery of content skills?
I teach Family and Consumer Science & Technology so I am rich with the content of the world. I kind of look at my class like it’s own Montessori style (Did you see Auntie Mame?) My content is life so I find creative ways to teach much of the content without it necessarily looking like class. I feel compelled that everything is based on teaching students to build healthy relationships and coping strategies.
What have you done to combat this confounding?
I wear combat boots. :slight_smile: You have to be moving around a lot and letting every student know they matter. I try to greet them at my door by name and tell them goodbye and I will see them later. I try to sit beside them and give them one on one attention as much as I can. I am big on student voice so I try to let them know I “see” them (Avatar).

Side note: When staff SEL needs are not being met…this leads to a school in crisis from the top down.


Thanks for sharing, @clsnyder-renfro ! I love how you make Maslow’s Hierarchy the basis of how you approach teaching.

I haven’t seen this! I’d love to hear more about how this relates to your style as a teacher!

1 Like

You should totally see the movie. There are too many details to go into, but the gist of my story is that Auntie Mame is care taker of a young boy and she sends him to a Montessori style school. I saw this movie when I was around 11. It impacted my life at that point. I grew up in a house of wonder and confusion. My parents - full of talent were kind of hoarders of all things creativity. My mom is a master seamstress, cook, potter, quilter, basket weaver, as well as crochet and knitting. My dad had a plan to make sure we all ate well ( money was kind of scarce) so we had a garden, fruit bushes and trees, goats, rabbits, chickens and bees (for honey). We unloaded hay and feed, shoveled manure, weeded, harvested, plucked chickens, fed kids and milked the goats, In the spring the kids would spend the night in our bedrooms if it was cold. If we were hungry we would just climb a tree and eat till we were full. Or climb out the window of the second floor onto the roof and read comic books. (until the neighbors got us busted) Dad was an electrician so we got tools boxes and tools for presents and of course socks, towels and underwear. I learned wiring codes when I was 8 and what collate meant as we helped him prepare packets for presentations. We learned screen printing, made ceramics, molds and slip. We learned how to make glazes and fire clay. I am sure a lot more crazy. So I lived in a house full of chaos and people dealing with emotional baggage. All in all, I felt loved, had plenty to eat even in the worst of times, was surrounded and encouraged to be creative and felt like I could do anything.
SO how does this affect my teaching? I feel like grades are relative. Everyone is brilliant in their own way. so I try to be cautious how I use that tool to measure the humans in my care. I collect as much stuff as I can to give my kids opportunities for as many experiences as their hearts and minds can handle. For instance this lesson in SWAY https://sway.office.com/3RAlhi115TMW3DQ0?ref=Link
I taught the kids about a lot of things dealing with hand massage and lotion. Within my content area and beyond. After the lesson, I left all the lotions out for students to use at their leisure to give each other hand massages whenever they like. They LOVE it!. It only takes a few minutes and can settle ones spirit in the midst of anxiety and stress. Once upon a time, this movie helped shaped my world view on learning. It should be fun. It does not have to be so organized. Learners need a guide and someone to give input and feedback. Of course they need to know they are cared for and have a healthy relationship with someone who knows their name, knows they are alive and greets them with a smile. This was really probably more than you asked for but I do like to tell stories :blush:

1 Like

In our district, SEL is taught using the Second Step Curriculum. It is also integrated into the rest of the day, however, teachers are asked to teach the topic of the scope and sequence once a week as a whole group lesson. Also, the best way, I feel to teach these skills are when situations or problems occur; a direct connection to the student’s actions and resolution.

1 Like

Thank you so much for sharing details about your life! It’s fascinating to hear how your experiences have influenced your approach towards nurturing learners and grades. I really like how you focus on giving students a variety of experiences to engage so they can develop both their content and SEL skills.

It’s great to hear that SEL is emphasized within your district!

This is a great point! It’s important to be assessing SEL skills and to be on look out for opportunities to teach them when they are relevant to the situation.