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10 tips for using our social and emotional learning curriculum

Social-emotional curriculum

Perhaps you’ve been intrigued by our social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum but weren’t sure if it was right for you and your students. Maybe you’ve bought every single one we’ve released so far and are looking to level up your instruction and effectiveness (thank you so much, generous supporters!).

Maybe you’re somewhere in between. Wherever you are, this blog will help you make this curriculum the perfect fit for your classroom and students.

It’s meant to be flexible, to meet the needs of diverse and unique individual students. While we recommend it for middle and high school age students, it could also easily be adapted for younger students as well.

hyperlinks on the table of contents
Anywhere there is blue, underlined text it is a hyperlink. Also at the bottom of pages, the blue arrow returns you to the table of contents.

Everything is hyperlinked throughout this incredible curriculum. Clicking on items in the table of contents will take you right to that page. In addition, each page has a blue arrow on the bottom that you can click to return you to the table of contents. 

This makes for easy navigation and exploration of these beefy, monthly curriculum units. Click around. Explore. 

Have some fun. Our social and emotional learning curriculum is meant to be enjoyable and flexible, for both you and your students. 

Additionally, all the recommended videos are also linked straight to that video. This is true for the weekly overviews and any student activities where there are accompanying videos. 

If hyperlinks aren’t feasible for your students to be clicking, you can check out the accompanying video playlists on our YouTube channel. These playlists include all the recommended videos for each social and emotional learning curriculum unit.

2. Start with the 4-week overview

This little beauty is a snapshot of the whole month and a theme/focus for each day. It gives you a comforting sense of what each day has in store.

It can be great to pair this with your month’s calendar to determine if there are any interesting days (assembly days, holidays, sub days, etc.). Now, you can be proactive about moving/swapping some of the planned days around.

For example, if you’re using our lovely behavior rewards system (more on that later) and Fridays are reward days, that may not be an ideal plan for a substitute if you know you’ll be out. But you could easily swap the Thursday and the Friday of that week, as the individual exploration activities would be very appropriate for a substitute.

The month overview is a powerful tool for feeling prepared with a comprehensive game plan and making this month of curriculum perfect for you and your students.

weekly overview
The weekly overviews go into more detail about the specific materials you will need as well as links to video content.

3. Next up, weekly 1 overview

Since you’ve already familiarized yourself with the 4-week overview, you should feel ready to tackle each week’s overview. Here you’ll find hyperlinks for each day’s activities, the recommended sequence/order for the activities, and awesome pro tips to help you flow smoothly through the week.

We’ve attempted to brainstorm and prep you for as many possible scenarios as we could (without making this curriculum too overwhelming). As such, you’ll notice helpful hints/protips throughout the bundle.

These can be huge lifesavers, especially if you have time to peek at these hints before the week starts. Some of my favorites are #hottips on copies.

We love to work smarter, not harder.  Thus, we try to give you a heads up on how often you’ll be using certain activities and worksheets, so you don’t have to make endless trips to the copy room.

Links to all the worksheets and videos are included in each week’s overview, so you can have it open on your computer and click through the activities and modeling as necessary. Or you can use those links to create assignments in Google Classroom (or any digital learning platform) for more student-led independent work.

We want this curriculum to be right for your style, tech, and needs. Thus, it is meant to be malleable so you can adjust it to your classroom and student needs.

4. Make it work for YOUR students

You know your students’ individual needs. Re-arrange the days, re-mix the activities so they are the perfect fit for your classroom, your students.

Our guide is meant to be just that: a guide. It is a place to start and re-arrange from, so you don’t have to invent the wheel and the social-emotional curriculum.

All you have to do is teach it just as it is and/or make minor changes so it suits you and your students. Want to start your week with rewards? Swap Monday and Friday activities.

Do your students only need social and emotional learning curriculum once a week? Spread this curriculum bundle out over several months.

As you get to know your students, play around and experiment. It doesn’t have to be perfect. See what works. Just don’t lose the power of routines.

daily routines
Routines help kids be successful and you stay sane.

5. Routines are magic

Routines can be the magical fairy dust in a special education classroom, especially one with a behavioral/emotional/social focus. We think routines are so essential, we dedicated a whole page of this bundle to their explanation and importance.

Each day of the week has a focus and theme. As you continue to follow the curriculum, the students will get used to what they do each day.

I’ve seen routines be a huge power in comforting students (they know what to expect and thus can advocate for their needs). Routines also help them develop confidence in themselves.

It’s easier to practice a growth mindset and try new things when you feel safe and know what is expected of you. Routines can help to provide a safety net for educators and students.

6. It is a process

Be willing to go with the flow. Meditation and mindfulness are often uncomfortable. It’s natural for your students to be uneasy about it and to even resist it.

Some students may fall asleep during the meditations at first. That’s okay. They’re still receiving the positive messages in their subconscious. Plus, they clearly need more rest.

Let them explore mindfulness and their own identities at their own pace. One fun way to let students explore while developing stronger buy-in is to take yoga/meditation requests.

There are many days where we recommend a yoga/meditation / mindfulness activity to start, but don’t provide a specific one. This is intentional.

As students try out different yoga and meditation videos and practices, you can take student requests/recommendations of their favorites or ones they’ve discovered. This can be huge for student buy-in and it’s always fun to try new flavors (you never know when you could discover a new favorite).

7. Each curriculum unit has a theme

Each month has a special theme/focus. We recommend going in this order: 

We recommend this order as it develops and builds skills. However, you of course know your students best. If something happens that makes you want to re-arrange the month’s order go for it!

Perhaps you have a student really struggling with boundaries, you can move that month theme up in the year. Maybe trauma or tragedy strikes and you need that month’s curriculum stat. Move them around to suit your and your students’ needs.

Each month can easily stand on its own, and all these lovely units are meant to be able to be used in whatever order is best for you.

We just recommend this order to start. That way, if you are a new teacher or new to this content you have a jumping-off place.

8. Behavior rewards system

Check out the included rewards system! It even comes with data trackers to keep track of student points 🙂

There are four different behavior levels that encourage attendance as well as making positive choices. These levels are positive and encouraging, so students know exactly where they are and what’s expected of them.

Based on their level for each class period, students earn points. The levels are written in growth mindset language, so students are clear on what they can do to achieve different levels and earn more points.

We have both paper point/data trackers and digital ones. That way, students can track their points (they get bonus points for tracking accurately), and you (or an Instructional Assistant) can check for accuracy as frequently as you deem appropriate.

We recommend more frequent (hourly or daily) checks in the beginning which can taper off to weekly and/or monthly checks later on. They can then use those points to purchase rewards from the included and fun Rewards Menu.

We, of course, love our behavior rewards system. However, if your school or district requires or utilizes a different system, no worries: use that one.

This curriculum is meant to ease your worries and lighten your load, so make any changes/swaps that you deem necessary. These are just additional tools for your plentiful toolbox.

9. Behavior processing packet

Now with students who struggle with behavior and managing their emotions, it is likely that at some point they may break the rules and/or make some regrettable choices. We highly recommend checking out our amazing behavior processing packet!

For just $1, this incredible packet is perfect for helping students process their own actions and decisions. It can be done in a time-out space, office, or even outside (weather permitting).

It provides choices for students to determine how they’d like to explore their actions and helps them to develop a greater understanding of why they made those choices and how to make more positive ones in the future.

Behavior is always communication. This packet can help students translate their own behavior and make it work better for them to reach their own goals.

10. Mindfulness and gratitude

Each month, no matter the theme includes mindfulness activities and gratitude practices. This is because both have numerous benefits for educators and students. 

Gratitude practices can lead to:

  • Better sleep
  • Increased empathy
  • Stronger mental stamina
  • Improved physical and psychological health
  • Positive relationships
  • Reduced aggression
  • Improved self-esteem

Read even more about the benefits of practicing gratitude here

Studies have shown that mindfulness can help:

  • Make your classroom a safe space
  • Decrease stress and anxiety in students and teachers
  • Increase performance in academics
  • Decrease aggression and negative behaviors
  • Create a positive class and school culture

Read even more about the wondrous benefits of mindful classrooms here.

There’s no wrong way to use our social and emotional learning curriculum. Experiment and trust your gut. You know how to support and encourage your students.

Get the full year worth of curriculum here:

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