Hybrid Considerations: Social Emotional Learning

Not surprisingly, educators have stressed that in hybrid teaching and learning, relationships continue to be the foundation of engagement and social-emotional development. They also report that it is easier to engage students who are doing a hybrid model than those who are fully remote. This is because even a couple of days a week of in-person time helps build stronger connections and makes one-on-one check-ins easier. That in-person time also keeps students engaged on remote days. Students are more motivated to log on and keep up with assignments when home because they know they will see their teachers in person. In addition, they look forward to the in-person social interactions with peers.

Since the hybrid approach does appear to benefit student relationship-building, it is an important opportunity for district, intermediary, and school leaders to help ensure that teachers and staff leverage the in-person time to build and reinforce student engagement with adults and peers. One powerful strategy is giving students voice and choice in both academic and advisory settings. These are key to enhancing SEL, building student agency, and developing student ownership of a class and/or advisory. Another essential strategy is doubling down on relationship building and, whether remote or hybrid, advisory can be a huge asset to creating the kinds of social interactions that help form a shared experience among students and faculty. Moreover, as SEL becomes more and more integrated into every facet of the school, learning how to measure it in both in-person and remote contexts will help districts gain insights into what works where, how, and for whom.

For more information, visit the SEL in PD and Keeping Students and Families Engaged sections of this guide.

Guiding Questions:

  • What SEL strategies best leverage the in-person time of students in hybrid classes?
  • What are effective ways to measure SEL in order to learn from patterns, differences, and similarities across hybrid/remote, grades, and schools within a district or network?

Elevate Student Voice and Choice

Student voice and choice enhance SEL by:

  • Promoting student agency
  • Building metacognition
  • Allowing for differentiation based on students’ individualized needs and interests

Now is the time for district and school leaders to emphasize voice and choice. One common avenue is student government, but to reach all students daily, teachers also need strategies for engaging students both in helping to make class decisions with their peers as well as making individual learning decisions for themselves. Students in hybrid classes can provide invaluable insights on what is working for them in school versus at home.

For more information, visit the Rigor and Compassion section of this guide.

CASEL’s Strategies for Elevating Student Voice offers examples of ways staff can support and elevate a broad range of student perspectives and experiences. This tool includes classroom-based strategies such as interactive pedagogy, classroom community building, and project-based learning.

A choice board, a graphic organizer that lets students choose different ways to learn about a particular concept, may also be a helpful tool across a school.

Focus or Re-Focus Advisory on Relationships

Whether schools call them pods, squads, crews, advisory, or some other term, the educators we spoke with indicated a growing recognition among districts and schools of how essential it is to ensure that staff are assigned a manageable number of students and families to get to know and support. However, too often advisory is used primarily for non-SEL- related tasks such as taking attendance or checking grades with students. While these activities are important, they should not compromise the primary goal of relationship building and SEL.

When implemented effectively, advisory “can deepen personal relationships within the school community to help students feel known. This feeling of being known by adults and other students in the school can dramatically increase students’ academic success” (Responsive Learning Community, ERS). Now, more than ever, is the time to use those in-person times to fortify relationships.

For more information, visit the SEL and Professional Development sections of this guide.

Activities and games such as the ones recommended in the collections can help schools leverage in-person time and can be adopted for remote learning.

  • COVID-19 Remote Advisory Activities offers a range of activities to help students continue to develop socially, emotionally, and personally with their peers. While all activities focus on relationship building, some couple that with basic tasks such as attendance and grade checks (AMLE).
  • Relaxed Non-Contact Group Games that Practice Social Distancing includes free games for team building, cooperation, and collaboration (Youth Group Games).
  • Self-Care: Self-Talk for Secondary School is a short collection of activities to help middle and high school students develop the key self-care practice of positive self-talk, ranging from affirmations to gratitude (Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility).

Measuring SEL

As more districts focus on improving SEL for all students, it is increasingly important that districts measure its effectiveness, ideally using the same instrument across all schools to measure SEL engagement for the whole district.

Formative data on students’ SEL competencies as well as similarities and differences between hybrid and all-remote students can help schools determine which instructional strategies are effective. (How do you measure social and emotional learning? [The Hechinger Report]).

But beware of survey fatigue! Survey implementation experts recommend that surveys designed for re-administration should be ten
questions or fewer in order to avoid survey fatigue. Long surveys (over 10 questions) can provide critical
information but should be implemented sparingly, usually once per year. (EdResearch for Recovery, Brief #13)

For more information, visit Well-Being and Identity Building in the SEL section of this guide.

Evidence-Based Practices for Assessing Students’ Social and Emotional Well-Being (EdResearch for Recovery) provides strategies to consider and to avoid around the central question, How can schools and districts monitor students’ social and emotional well-being across the year?

CASEL’s interactive SEL Assessment Guide helps educators select from the most popular SEL student assessments. This tool offers:

  • Detailed information about specific SEL competencies, reporting features, training, and other implementation supports offered by widely used assessments such as the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) and the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA).
  • A three-part process to help ensure that an appropriate assessment is selected and used in a way that promotes positive and equitable outcomes for all students.