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[Administrator Tips] 7 SEL Meeting Strategies You Can Use with Your Teachers

[Administrator Tips] 7 SEL Meeting Strategies You Can Use with Your Teachers

We all appreciate focused and productive meetings and often see clear agendas that are aimed at moving us toward effective productivity. While these are important goals, our meetings are often missed opportunities to get a read on where our team is emotionally.

Because our emotional state and a sense of connectedness directly impact productivity, it is essential, particularly in a time of crisis, to take the temperature of our team and to provide support where needed. Leaders who put compassion at the forefront create teams that care for one another and adapt more easily.

Here are ways to start a meeting based on the principles of social-emotional learning:

1. “Name one word that describes how you are feeling right now.”

(Tired, focused, overwhelmed, excited?) This opening exercise gives managers a temperature gauge of the room. If only a few people say words like “overwhelmed,” “sad,” or “tired,” you can follow up individually to check in. However, If the whole team articulates the same sentiment, then you may want to adjust your approach to the situation, particularly if this is different from the team’s normal presentation.

2. “Share one positive and one challenge.”

Have each person take a turn at sharing. Helping people recognize the positives helps create perspective. Being able to be aware of and validate challenges present in your team gives you the information you need to decide on how to best support and follow up when needed.

3. Start with having each person share something he or she is grateful for or an act of kindness he or she received.

When feeling overwhelmed or anxious, it can be hard to remember the little moments of grace we experience. Recognizing those moments of grace can help.

4. Form positive pairs.

Create breakout rooms of pairs for five minutes, and ask the team to use the time to learn something about each other to create a connection. Have the pairs share one thing that team members appreciate about the other person, such as a coping skill they admire, qualities of a person who made a difference in their life, or a skill or talent they have always wanted to work on. Rotate pairs regularly.

5. “Name one thing that you need this week.”

Have team members go around and name one concrete thing that they need to help them be successful during the week. Have team members work together to see if they can address these needs.

6. “Name one thing you will do this week to support your self-care.”

Have team members identify one way they will practice self-compassion during the week. We can get so focused on caring for others that we forget that we need to start with ourselves.

7. Begin with mindfulness.

Start the meeting with a three- to four-minute moment of mindfulness with a focus on feeling compassion for others, listening, practicing self-awareness, or breathing. There are apps that highlight these skills for team practice.

Remember, taking time to check in does not have to be time-consuming. Some of these practices take just a few minutes. With bigger teams, you can always create breakout groups of no more than three minutes long. The important thing is that compassion and connection go a long way in building functional teams. Often, taking that short time translates into more productive team members.

Interested in strategies that can help educators build mental health literacy and approach the topic of mental health with their students? Check out this episode of the Edmentum Podcast: Mental Health During COVID-19 with Andrew Baxter, lead project coordinator for

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Jen Perry

Jen Perry currently serves as the Director, Whole Learning and SEL at Edmentum. Jen joined Edmentum as the Learning Designer for Social-Emotional Learning after 30+ years of work with youth in educational and community settings. As a teacher, administrator, and trainer, her passion has been to help educators develop an understanding of the importance of social and emotional learning and build trauma-informed responses and systems. This work has included supporting youth, administrators, and schools in understanding behavior and implementing transformational change through strength-based approaches.