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Districtwide Elementary SEL Block

Embedding social-emotional learning (SEL) blocks into the daily K-5 schedule

Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the existing inequities that students were experiencing prior to school closures, such as food and housing insecurity. The added disruption of schools closing and health issues that arose during the pandemic made Meriden Public Schools more aware of supporting its students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) skills to help them build their resiliency, self-management skills, and support their mental health. In response to this growing need, the district created a daily SEL block embedded in student schedules in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"We formed a committee of teachers, and they identified words each month that students were going to focus on in each school to support SEL. The theme may be persistence or sympathy. Then there are lessons K through five that are done each morning – similar to a morning meeting time, but it's really an essential block. It's not about doing the calendar; it's more about checking in. How are you feeling? How do you deal with things? One of the unique features that they built was the 15-minute block of SEL time that's flexible throughout the day." - Barbara Haeffner, Director of Teaching and Innovation

Approach

To launch this work, Meriden created a focus committee of teachers to identify words, such as compassion, empathy, etc., that students would focus on during SEL lessons each month. Every morning, students K-5 have a 20-minute SEL block where they engage in an SEL lesson. In addition to this daily lesson, teachers had a 15-minute flexible block incorporated into their daily schedule to address any SEL-related student needs that arose. If a student showed any signs of social or emotional distress, teachers were able to pause their lessons to address the student’s needs one-on-one.


This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.