Well-Being and Identity Building

Caring for yourself before you can care for others“SEL is important for educators, too. Many of us are struggling right now and we can’t take care of students without taking care of ourselves first.”

When students switched to remote learning, many students felt significant strain, loneliness, disengagement, and frustration. The educators we spoke with discussed the need to have multiple, ongoing conversations with each student, even if that conversation wasn’t directly related to the content.

They discussed the importance of getting students to go deeper in their thinking and sharing and asking students to tell stories. Young people had a lot of stories to tell about their distance learning experiences, which made for rich writing prompts. Many teachers also shared stories about how they’ve been able to integrate mindfulness and other practices that encourage healthy social and emotional skills, including routines and rituals for students to share their emotions and academic assignments that connect to their emotions.

Close to
of teachers and administrators want a tool to track SEL measures

The social and emotional health of staff is also critical piece of the puzzle. The additional stresses of transitioning to an entirely new platform for teaching alongside managing their own personal stresses while starting a new school year can become overwhelming. Administrators face considerable pressure as they lead an entire school community into unchartered territory. Ensuring that a plan is in place for supporting the overall school community is key.

Guiding Questions

According to a survey conducted by Edge Research, 89% of parents/caregivers were not provided access to mental health support, but 65% felt anxious/worried and 53% were overwhelmed about remote learning.
  • How can we support the social-emotional well-being of the adults in our community? How can adults model social-emotional competencies for students?
  • How can we foster the development of our students’ SEL skills, such as self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, social awareness, and building relationships?
  • How can we measure our students’ SEL skills and competencies?

Professional Development Connections

  • Professional development on adult self-care includes consistent modeling. For example, open all meetings with self-care techniques and encourage teachers to try them with students and in their teacher teams.
  • When staff receive proper training and support, an advisory system is one of the most important spaces for fostering and reinforcing student SEL skills. Consider adopting and providing professional development on an SEL web-based program such as Second Step, which can be integrated into advisory or elsewhere.
  • Provide professional development on topics such as promoting a growth mindset, mindfulness in the classroom and creating clear, consistent procedures and routines that help all young people feel safe.
Use these selected strategies and resources
High-leverage Strategies Aligned Resources

Faculty and Staff Well-Being

Make SEL and well-being for staff a top priority. Keep teachers from becoming isolated. Priorities include:

  • Offering monthly mini workshops for staff on wellness and self-care
  • Having weekly check-ins where staff discuss challenges and support one another using research-based protocols and practices
  • Providing access to a mental health clinician who can share ways to manage stress and anxiety
  • Integrating mindfulness and other practices that encourage adult well-being

(SEL for Adults: Social Awareness and Relationship Skills, Greater Good Education)

This Self-Care for Teachers handout can help staff incorporate these practices into day-to-day routines (Stop, Breathe & Think PBC).

This Personal Assessment and Reflection tool provides a framework and process for staff to reflect on their own social and emotional growth (CASEL).

Student Well-Being

Support teacher teams to collaborate on integrating daily SEL practices into their classes.

  • Open each class with a welcoming inclusion activity, routine, or ritual that builds community and connects to the work ahead.
  • Embed engaging strategies and a balance of interactive and reflective experiences to meet each participant’s needs. Try academic assignments that connect to their emotions such as journal/writing prompts, creative writing, or video reflections.
  • Close each class session by highlighting the importance of the work and encouraging a shared sense of accomplishment.
  • Have quick SEL check-ins with students regularly throughout the week. For example, ask students to select an emoji to communicate their current emotional state.


The My Feelings Reflection form is a ready-to-use Google doc for students to record daily reflections each week (Sown to Grown).

CASEL resources cover key ways to integrate SEL to reach all students:

Integrating SEL into Staff and Grade-Level Meetings includes:

  • The Three Signature SEL Practices for Adult Learning tool for incorporating three critical elements into any student or adult class, meeting, or engagement
  • The Using Grade-Level and Content Area Team Meetings to Support SEL tool, which provides guidance for using grade-level team meetings to address four areas: supportive classroom environment, integration of SEL into instruction, explicit SEL instruction, and student-centered discipline

SEL 3 Signature Practices Playbook provides more details on key strategies that enhance SEL skills:

  • Welcoming inclusion activity, routine, or ritual
  • Engaging strategies
  • Optimistic closure

Remote Learning Free SEL Resources offers a range of free resources for building students’ SEL competencies and overall well-being.

Family Well-Being

Keep families aware that the school community values and cares about them. Encourage school leaders and staff to maintain consistent and frequent two-way communication using multiple modes of outreach, including phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, and access to resources such as a space on your district or school website that is dedicated to providing SEL resources.

See related resources in the section on Families .

Orient families to what SEL is, why it’s essential to high-quality education, and how they can provide feedback and input and receive SEL support and other related resources.

  • Learn and borrow from Durham Public Schools’ district-wide SEL hub called Embrace to promote SEL skills and well-being across the whole community.
  • Offer resources, such as access to meals, health services, and mental health support, as incentives for engagement.