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ESL Library Virtual Conference: Social-Emotional Well-Being

September 29, 2021

Social-emotional well-being was a major theme throughout the ESL Library Virtual Conference that took place on September 17 and 18. Day 2 began with a Coffee Talk devoted entirely to social-emotional well-being.

We started the session by checking in with each other and sharing how we manage our mental health throughout the day. Tanya Trusler, our Director of Language Development, said that she likes to take a walk after work while Ann Dickson, our US Editor, practices mindfulness. Tara Benwell, our VP of Publishing, explained how the Donut app—an app that pairs co-workers up for a virtual chat and coffee—gives her a fun and relaxing break every couple of weeks.

Our wonderful community of teachers also shared their own thoughts and insights about building emotional resilience in our students and ourselves. Some of these amazing ideas were:

  • Movement breaks
  • Yoga breaks
  • Breathing exercises
  • Singing and dancing breaks
  • Game breaks (scavenger hunt, I Spy, Simon Says, or Tic-Tac-Toe)
  • Critical thinking session where students can share a reflection with no comment from others
  • Thought jar where students can anonymously express how they feel

After exploring our new Social-Emotional Learning collection, the session ended with an optimistic closure:

“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”

Later that morning, we continued the conversation with Dr. Katie Welch. Katie discussed how to incorporate social-emotional learning into adult ESL classrooms. When it comes to incorporating social-emotional learning into the classroom, there are three signature practices:

  • Welcoming ritual
  • Engaging practices
  • Optimistic closure

The welcoming ritual takes place during the first five minutes of class. This ritual should welcome your students, set the tone, and build community. Katie recommended greeting students by name and pronouncing their names correctly. After greeting students, Katie also recommended using a feelings wheel to do an emotion check-in and connect with students.

Next up is engaging practices. According to Katie, engaging instruction can foster collaboration, cultural responsiveness, and self-efficacy. Engaging practices should engage the brain but should also include “brain breaks,” which are short mental breaks that help students stay focused and attentive. Brain breaks are especially necessary with virtual learning. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so be sure to take breaks to breathe, stretch, and move. Crossing the mid-line can also energize the brain!

Lastly, there is the optimistic closure. Whether it’s affirmations, a quote, or just a word, it’s important to conclude with something positive and uplifting.

Katie stressed that it’s also important to take care of yourself first! As we mentioned above, you can’t pour from an empty cup!

Teachers, what does self-care look like for you? How do you incorporate social-emotional learning into your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

For more highlights and takeaways from our first-ever conference, check out this blog post.

If you missed either of these sessions, be sure to check out the recordings.

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